Marketing vs. branding – what’s the difference?

Marketing vs. branding – what’s the difference?

Updated 19 March 2023

“Aren’t those terms the same thing anyway?” – Spoiler alert: they are not.

It’s quite common that people get these two business elements mixed up or think they can be used interchangeably. 

Truthfully, both marketing and branding have areas where they overlap and work together. But you need to know the difference between the two and how to use each one to play an important role within your business.

Used successfully, branding and marketing activities can take you a long way. Understand why they are equally important and learn how to make them work for your own business.

In a nutshell: What is branding?

Your personal branding describes who you are.

Branding is all about shaping your identity as a business and how you differentiate yourself from your competitors. Think about your USP, unique selling proposition, your characteristics and the narrative you want to present to your audience. It’s also about how you communicate with your customers, your message (or claim) and which values you are showcasing as a business.

Once you have the answers to your identity, personal branding then takes on the looks: logo, colours, fonts, etc.

In a nutshell: What is marketing?

Your marketing is a set of tools, processes and strategies that help promote who you are.

Marketing is the action you take to bring your brand out into the world (and ideally into the hands of your target audience). It’s about creating a marketing strategy and sales journey that speaks to your customers, understanding their interests and how you can best engage them with your brand. Using marketing tools and techniques in the right ways means you create awareness for your brand, find a way to make people purchase your product or services and make them come back for more.

Here are some common digital marketing methods and elements:

Why does it feel like marketing and branding are the same thing?

Your branding always comes first. Then marketing follows. While that’s naturally the way it works – knowing who you are in order to promote who you are – both elements have a few things in common and work closely together which makes life in the business world sound extra complicated at times.

Branding and marketing act as the perfect duo that help to put your business into the spotlight. One without the other can’t take over the world on its own. You need a solid, attractive personal branding to be recognised so that your marketing activities can build on top of that. But the greatest branding on earth won’t survive if no one knows about it. So yeah, it can become confusing.

The branding-marketing-crossover – how they work together

What both branding and marketing have in common is that they decide how people think and feel about your business. Here are some overlapping factors:

Sharing the same looks

Your branding and marketing efforts need to align and create an all-round package so that people can recognise it’s you. This can mean that your brand colours need to be the same across all your marketing channels or you speak to your audience with the same tone of voice that sounds like “one language”, on your website just as much as on a social media post.

Seeking attention 

Having a branding that stands out definitely grabs the attention of your target market. So does great marketing. However, they are not competing against each other but rather play together to turn attention into potential new customers. While marketing brings the point of interest to the table, branding carries the values that make people stick.

Driving towards sales

Marketing works real hard to find your customers and make them an offer they can’t refuse. Getting that spark of interest that leads them to the point of action is one thing but it might not be enough to actually have your audience go all the way through with it. This is where branding takes over. 

Here’s an example:
Let’s say you have a highly sought after quality product with an unbeatable price tag that makes your competition faint. 

Someone finds out about this amazing offer through a social media post and clicks through the link to your website, ready to purchase – that’s the marketing bit. Now what can make or break the sale is whether people feel that it’s a trustworthy and legitimate offer. Your branding needs to do the convincing part here and it needs to appeal to the customer in all the right ways. For example, do you offer a great customer experience, answer every concerning question and show certifications that prove you are real? If it’s a check, check, check, it’s highly likely the customer flexes their bank account details if they feel comfortable and secure through your branding.

Ready, set, go: Build your brand and develop your marketing strategy

Next time someone claims that marketing and branding mean the same thing, you can step in and shine with the real explanation around what makes them different. Now it’s time to tackle your own branding and marketing activities. Or leave it in someone else’s experienced hands to bring out what’s unique about your business and take on the megaphone to shout about it. 

Honest Fox has plenty of marketing experts and designers on our team that can support you – talk to us and we’ll make it happen.

Written by

Aylin Putzer

Content Manager

A creative mind with a slight crush on copywriting. Aylin is an experienced textual professional who puts her writing skills to good use to create exciting content for B2B and B2C audiences. She also speaks German and her love language is cake.