What Is The Difference Between Branding and Marketing?

When we talk about marketing, branding, sales, content marketing, digital marketing, storytelling, and advertising, we tend to put everything in one basket and say ‘marketing’. Or we say “Let’s do more marketing to increase our sales”. 

Every single business needs to survive, every single business needs clients. It doesn’t matter if it’s a business that makes billions in revenue or a start-up that is funded by a private equity firm or a bootstrapped business.  

Branding and marketing are two different things yet they need to work together.  Let’s dive into each part separately. 

Here is the definition of a brand,

“A brand is a name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller’s good or service as distinct from those of other sellers.” 

Here’s the definition of branding,

“Branding is architecting and managing the meaning and experience of the brand with intention.”

So branding is managing the meaning of the brand. 

Here’s a quote I love about branding that explains it in a very different way: 

“A brand is a promise. It’s a promise that your company can keep. You make and keep that promise in every product experience, marketing activity, every action, every corporate decision, every customer interaction.” – [1] 

Let’s have a look at the definition of marketing: 

“Marketing outlines the specific activities of how, where and when a brand will promote its products and services to its customer targets in the marketplace.”


To view it another way it’s looking at marketing as tactics, how we will increase our sales, what channels will we use, and how we will reach our potential audience. How we will promote this product to the audience; i.e create an outdoor campaign, radio advert and create a film for social media. 

Branding is about ‘the why’ the company exists and what feelings we want our potential audience and customers to feel. 

Branding is what we sell and why we sell and marketing is how we sell it. 

Branding is the feeling that the brand wants its customers to feel. 

The other difference between the two is that branding is long-term and marketing is short-term. That’s why a lot of business owners don’t want to invest in branding because we all want results right now, today. If I invest £50k in ad spend online I want to see results next month. It makes logical sense. With branding, you can’t do that. 

Branding is about perception, how can we create a brand that is perceived a certain way. It’s about emotional resonance that lasts over time. It’s the emotional connection. 

With marketing, you can’t create an emotional connection. You see an advert online, you either see it and click it and then you buy or book the product/service, or you don’t. 

When we create brand stories at Way Boutique those are branding activities, because we are creating a story that will potentially help the company create an emotional connection, differentiate the brand and build loyalty. 

Marketing on the other hand monetizes the value that is created in branding. 

Another great way to think about it is the touchpoints that customers have. Before we buy any product, we always have a lot of touchpoints before the sale. If we are not familiar with the brand we’re going to do our research, right? We are going to read reviews, ask for opinions, check their website, social media presence etc. 

With great branding, we help marketing and sales do its job more easily. So for example, if the branding of the company is great then it will be easier to make sales. 

“Branding is the art of becoming knowable, likable, and trustable.” John Jantsch

It’s way harder to sell without good branding — you need to convince someone that they are good. A great example of this is that two weeks ago I needed to buy insurance for my new bike. I’m new to this category so I had no idea of any companies. I did my research and found a company called Laka. Their brand was spot on; design, user experience, tone of voice, the website is easy[3]  to use and the price was great (for me). Their brand made me feel that they are reliable, a good company, and pay out is easy if you ever need it. The sale was done immediately. I didn’t even look for other competitors. 

Here’s another great example of how ‘bad’ branding can be holding you back. When I got my skydiving license I was over the moon. I posted on a private Skydiving group on Facebook about my story (I failed previously and then succeeded) with my new coach. I praised my coach a lot and thanked him in the post. My story got a bit of traction, so many people commented, send me messages etc. Whenever somebody was asking me about a coach or doing the AFF license I always recommended my coach. 

Now, you would think he got a lot of leads and sales. No, he didn’t. He did get one or two new students. But why? Well, unfortunately his branding is not very professional. You can see that it’s done by an amateur. When you go and see brands like Skydive Spain or Empuriabrava Skydiving you see a difference in the quality of the brand. People read my story, and those that were interested looked at his presence and decided (perhaps some subconsciously) that he is not for them. 

So you see for my coach to make one sale he needs potentially 10,000 people to be looking to get a skydiving license, have reviews, have testimonials, have maybe somebody refer them to him and then convert maybe 1% to become a customer. 

For another brand, for example, Skydive Empuriabrava for example, they might need 5,000 to be interested, have testimonials and convert maybe 5% of those into customers. 

Great branding makes it easier for brands to sell their products and services as a first step and the second step (if the brand has a great brand story) is to connect with customers on an emotional level. 

Here is where some might get confused; so what you are saying is that branding is design? No, of course not, but design comes in as well. Design is a fundamental part of branding but it’s not everything. Before design work can start, there are other things that we need to consider — what do we want our customers to feel? 

When we have a great brand we can make our marketing so much easier. So for example, if we have a great brand then when we market it we can have a higher conversion rate because people like the brand, there is this intangible feeling. 

When we don’t have a great brand and aesthetics are bad then it’s harder to convince the other person to buy from us. It takes more time to research, to ask and perhaps the customer finds someone else with a great brand. 

Here are two things to remember about branding and marketing: 

Branding builds loyalty. 

Marketing generates action. 

Another way to think about it is to think of an ultra runner. Let’s say we have a goal to run 100 km. We have one runner that followed a training plan, nutrition plan, and gear (shoes, vest etc) and we have one runner that didn’t follow anything, he just showed up with jeans, casual shoes and a cotton t-shirt. Who do you think will finish faster? Or who do you think will finish the race? The answer is obvious. 

You can still run with jeans and casual shoes but the question is how long will you last? 

That’s the same question with businesses that don’t build brands. There are a lot of businesses out there but the question is, how long will they last?

If we want to build a meaningful brand that makes a positive impact, we need to work on our brand, which includes our brand purpose, our stories, and design aesthetics among other things. 

I would love to hear your thoughts and how you see branding and marketing in the comments below.