Branding vs. Marketing: What’s the Difference?

It’s an age-old question: what’s the difference branding vs. marketing? In a world where most people use the two terms interchangeably, it’s easy to see where the confusion comes from. Despite any perceived similarities between the two, however, they are not the same thing. 

To make matters even more confusing, these tend to be very subjective topics. Ask a few different people for their definitions and you’ll get a few different responses. To some, branding is a surface-level pursuit, limited to creating a logo and deciding on a brand voice. For others, though, branding is a systemic philosophy, dedicated to defining the heart and soul of a company. To be successful in the modern digital world, though, you’ve got to understand the roles branding and marketing play for your company, and what the difference between the two approaches is. 

Let’s dive in.

What is Branding?

Here’s how Shopify defines branding:

“Branding is all of the ways you establish an image of your company in your customers’ eyes. By building a website that describes what you offer, designing ads that promote your goods and services, selecting specific corporate colors that will be associated with your company, creating a logo, and featuring it across all your social media accounts, you are branding your company. That is, you are shaping how and what people’s perceptions of your business are. And what your customers say about your brand is the reality (not what you’d like them to think). It’s the impression that pops into their minds when they hear your business’ name. It’s based on a feeling they have that is based on their experiences they’ve had with you, good or bad.”

Pretty broad definition, right? This expansiveness is one of the reasons branding vs. marketing is such a contested topic. For most companies, branding is really a three-fold approach. It encompasses your brand, your actual brand positioning, and your brand strategy.

Your Brand

Your brand is the persona you project to your audiences. Good brands rely on content – things like visual identities (logos, images, color schemes, etc.), brand voice, mission statements, and more.

The stronger the brand, the more valuable your company is. When a brand is strong, it means you’re good at keeping promises to your customers. It also means you’ve mastered a style of messaging that creates an emotional response. People respond to these brands because they know they can trust them to deliver and that the brand itself is a source of positive experiences.

Brand Positioning

A strong brand can’t exist without a need, which the brand can fulfill. Think of a brand like Apple, for example, which fulfilled a consumer-wide need for simplicity and functionality. Good brand positioning differentiates your promise from everyone else’s, and helps your messaging remain relevant, compelling, and authentic. 

Brand Strategy

Good brand strategy is about deciding how to best support the brand you’ve built, and what you can do to continue growing the brand in the future. It defines what your brand stands for, what relationships exist between the brand and the consumer, and how the parent organization continues to promote the brand in the coming weeks, months, and years. 

What is Marketing?

As we’ve already established, marketing is different from branding. While branding is about mastering a voice, marketing is about finding a market. Effective marketing leads to profitable sales, support, conversions, and engagement from consumers. 

Good marketing relies on good marketing strategy, which is guided primarily by a company’s goals and objectives. Effective marketing strategy involves segmenting markets,  selecting a target audience, deciding on pricing, and integrating media to create effective, emotive campaigns.

For an example of a brand that aces its marketing strategy, take a look at Google. Google stands out as a leader in the digital world, driving transformation and extending innovative products to people around the world. That’s the brand. The marketing, however, goes above and beyond that dry description:

As you can see, Google’s brand promise is informed and supported by its marketing. Its branding says “we are leaders in innovation, and we’re here to make your daily life easier and better.” Its marketing, meanwhile, shows consumers exactly how it aims to do that. 

If branding is creation, marketing is connection. This is the heart of the Branding vs. marketing debate. 

How to Improve Your Branding 

The best way to improve your branding is to improve your marketing strategy. Even if the physical value of your product, good, or service is easy to calculate, the value of your brand might not be. The only way to rectify this is to build value into your brand through your marketing.

This creates what experts call “brand equity.” Brand equity is, according to Investopedia, “the value premium that a company generates from a product with a recognizable name when compared to a generic equivalent. Companies can create brand equity for their products by making them memorable, easily recognizable, and superior in quality and reliability. Mass marketing campaigns also help to create brand equity.”

When a company takes the time to build a positive brand equity, customers are more willing to stay loyal to that brand. They’re also more likely to pay more for that brand’s products and recommend that brand to their friends. 

With this in mind, here are a few ways to build brand equity in your company:

  • Identify what your customers love about your company. What makes your business stand out? What one thing do you do that nobody else does?
  • Match your visual elements to your message. If you’re promising to deliver innovation, make sure your visual elements are innovative and vibrant enough to reflect that promise. The same goes for the logo, videos, and images you use on your site.  
  • Develop internal standards. The more accurately you can communicate who you are within your company, the more this message will translate out and resonate with your customers. 

How to Improve Your Marketing

Your marketing is the way you communicate with the world at large. Reaching your target audience is essential for growth, and it requires you to improve your marketing strategy in the following ways:

  • Pay attention to the data. Good marketing strategies rely on data. With the help of comprehensive data, you can identify problem areas, determine where your strategy is strongest, and adjust your approach accordingly to what will work best for your brand.
  • Focus on customers. Customer-centric marketing is the metaphorical key to the castle. By focusing your attention and efforts on your customers, you can deliver what your essential audiences want and continue to cater to their needs, pain points, and concerns.
  • Be consistent. Above all else, be consistent with your marketing. Keep showing up every day, keep trying new things, and keep putting your customers at the center of your strategy.  A large part of successful marketing is being willing to put in the work, day after day.

The H Hub: Your Source for World-Class Branding and Marketing

When it comes time to improve your branding vs. marketing, you need a partner you can trust. That’s where The H Hub comes in. Dedicated to connecting companies with world-class videographers, photographers, and other branding and marketing assets, we’re here to help create strong brands, and to watch them soar. Browse our selection of visual pros now.