Branding Vs. Marketing — Knowing The Difference Makes A Difference

branding vs. marketing

The world of business has plenty of challenges. For a new entrepreneur, discussions can sometimes go jargon-heavy and thus create additional hurdles. In this article, we simplify one such area: Branding and Marketing. 

Plenty of business folk have over-simplified these two words by associating Branding with logos and Marketing with sales. But this definition is very misleading and harmful for your business.  

Before we embark on understanding the key differences between Branding and Marketing, let’s state the basics.


Branding is all of the ways you establish an image of your company in your customers’ eyes. Bryan Eisenberg’s quote sums it up well: “Branding is the sum total of all the “experiences” your customers have with your business.”

The American Marketing Association defines marketing as “the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large”

To state it in a simple manner: Branding and Marketing are different activities. There is an overlap, but the demarcation is also solid. Branding is strategic, while marketing is tactical.

Why Know The Difference?

While bigger organisations have separate teams for managing branding and marketing activities, small businesses have one person wearing many hats.

In most cases, the business owner herself / himself is responsible for most of the strategizing and planning on both branding and marketing fronts. Team members can be contained to receiving instructions and executing. Business owner is the key driver in the organisation and decision making is vested at the top.

And being well-informed is crucial towards the quality of decisions taken not just on the marketing and brand-building front, but also across the business. This makes it highly necessary for business owners to have a clear understanding of branding and marketing, and what happens under each.

1. Branding comes first, then marketing

Many small businesses spend little time on their branding, or most times, it’s treated as a formality. The buzz of marketing is very visible (social media and everything around), and that tends to create the perception that marketing is where all the action is.  Although branding and marketing have the same goals, brand strategy comes first. Brand strategy is the foundation upon which marketing campaigns are built. Without a brand strategy all marketing buzz is directionless, and just buzz.

2. Branding is not your logo.. Just as Marketing is not social media

There is a gross misconception that getting your logo and brand colours in place means your branding is complete. That’s far from the truth. A logo is just one small element of the branding exercise. The fact is that branding is an ongoing process. Since it’s pervades all aspects of the business, the need to align your brand (strategy) with your product, sales & marketing, delivery and everything else your business does, is most necessary.

3. Branding is every action or inaction of your business, while Marketing is action on the sales front

Every business venture has sales and revenue generation as its priority. And a good lot of business owners dive right into firing up their marketing engine. This is a short approach and leads may dry up after a while, so business owners are always in firefighting mode to keep the leads and business coming in. Giving the branding elements their due at the very beginning (and periodically) will ensure proper alignment in actions taken across not just marketing, but all other functions of the business. 

4. Branding decides what story your business should tell; Marketing is a part of the telling of that story

Your business exists for a reason. If it’s for selling a product, it’s only a matter of time before the business hits a limiting factor. Branding goes beyond selling. It is your culture and purpose. It refers to the “WHY” that Simon Sinek talks about in his writing.


In conclusion, branding is the overarching strategy that gives direction to all areas of business, including marketing. Branding is present in everything your business does – how the office is designed, how the team operates, which technology the product deploys, how you greet customers on a call, the processes you setup, the campaigns you run, the partnerships you establish – the list is endless. 

If you are learning anything from this blog, let it be this. The next time you are thinking of  creating a new logo, changing brand colors, reaching out to new clients or brainstorming new ways to generate leads, stop and get your brand strategy in place first.

As a business owner, donning the Branding cap will help maintain alignment in every action and decision the business takes. And power up your marketing efforts too.