Business Theory & Practice

Marketing and Branding: Not a Tomato, To-mah-to Situation

Last week, here on the business practice blog, we talked about the importance of brand identity. This week, let’s take a look at a question that may have crossed your mind: What is the difference between branding and marketing? Aren’t they the same thing?

Some may be tempted to use these terms interchangeably. To that, I’d say, be cautious. While marketing and branding are inextricably linked, one cannot replace the other, even rhetorically, to sound hip and clued in a meeting.

Let’s see if I can help draw out some basic distinctions on the merits of marketing versus the benefits of branding.

Here we go.

The fundamental goal of marketing is no mystery: do research, position products accordingly, and increase sales. At its core, marketing is a tactical exercise, a mechanism for delivering your brand and its associated product range to the masses.

Marketing is a science, a mathematical formula derived to offer a fair amount of strategic confidence with its finite calculation. What’s not to love about that, right?

Well, if marketing is all numbers, numbers, numbers, then I’d like you to meet Branding.

Branding is marketing’s touchy feely art school cousin. Branding uses all sorts of creative devices to give form and voice to the insights that marketing gains. Branding initiatives allow companies to connect with the hearts and minds of their customers, often without the immediate goal of making a sale.

Weird, right? I know, but stay with me.

While marketing seeks lead conversions, branding campaigns cultivate relevance and emotional connection. Effective branding creates loyal customers, advocates, even evangelists, out of those who buy. Branding is a long game.

Branding is a pull, not a push.

A solid brand is built from many things: creative identity and design elements, copy, outreach campaigns, and most importantly, the customer’s lived experience of the brand. A brand standard is met when a product delivers on its promise of longevity, and when a customer service representative goes the extra mile. The tag line on the side of a delivery truck reinforces a brand. The appearance and demeanor of a well-trained front desk agent creates a brand impression for a customer.

These customer touches occur outside the scope of sales initiatives, and certainly outside of a marketing campaign. But, when brand values are thoughtfully and frequently reinforced at every level of an organization, the job of the marketing and sales teams becomes that much easier. A well-crafted brand lends credibility to the organization. And credibility goes a long way.


Tiffany Dyess- 1stel Blog Contributor

About the author

werkLab Studios

werkLab Studios