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Branding vs. Marketing: What’s the Difference?

September 5, 2017
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Mixing up the meaning of branding and marketing is one of the most common misconceptions in business. So what is the difference between branding and marketing?


If you think of branding as selecting your business name, logo, and design, you are only skimming the surface of the tangible aspects of what branding entails. Branding is also symbolic, emotional, and intangible. To understand what a brand is in the simplest form, it is who you are as a company.

Branding has many building blocks that together drive a cohesive strategy. These elements include your principles, values, mission statement, brand personality, brand essence, and brand vision. All of these aspects together will define who you are as a company and a brand, and will create your unique internal company culture.

An important thing to remember about branding is that this is not something that you can fully develop as a company. You can decide who your business is, what the internal culture will be, and what the brand vision is. Even once a company has created a branding strategy, consumers are the ones who interpret and process this information and ultimately decide what your brand is and how they feel about your company.

Related: How to Balance SEO and Branding: A Helpful Guide

A critical difference between branding and marketing is that branding remains relatively constant throughout the life of a business. The brand is the set standard of who you are as a company and what customers can expect from you. Your brand should be throughout the messaging of your entire business.

There is no doubt that branding is invaluable to the long-term success of a company. A company’s brand is also valuable to the bottom line as well. Every year Interbrand ranks the top valued brands, both locally to a country and globally. Interbrand has developed a formula to determine a monetary amount for how much a company’s intangible brand is worth. For 2016, the number one global brand was Apple with a brand value of 178,119 $m. Branding is essential and when done well increases the value of a company.

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Put simply, marketing is the different tools and processes that are utilized to build awareness, communicate, and spread a business’ brand. While branding remains constant throughout the life of a company, marketing is always changing and evolving as the company grows. Marketing is how you deliver information on products, services, and brand awareness to consumers.

The goal of marketing is to gain the attention of a targeted customer segment to either build awareness, educate, or facilitate a future purchase.

Related: How Does Design Fit Into Your Marketing Efforts?

There are numerous types of marketing that companies can choose from. Traditional marketing channels include print, television, radio, trade shows, and direct mail. Digital marketing channels range from paid media, paid social, email, content, search engine optimization, to influencer marketing. As you can see, there are endless channels and options for marketing depending on what the ultimate goal is.

It is important to understand the difference between branding and marketing. An example is listed below to differentiate between the two with a well-known iconic brand.

  • McDonald’s – The McDonalds brand is quick, convenient, reliable, at a good value. Consumers know what to expect, and know what no matter what location they go to, whether they are in North America or Europe, that they will receive quick service with the same core menu items. That is McDonald’s brand. McDonald’s runs several different marketing campaigns through online, print advertisements, radio, and television commercials. These marketing campaigns frequently change to either increase brand awareness or promote a new menu item.

As a company, a high priority must be placed on creating the branding strategy that will be utilized throughout the life of the company. This is one of the first, and most critical, steps a business must complete. A brand is who you are and what you stand for. This is what allows a company to stay in business in the long-term future.

Successful companies have built their business around their brand and gained the trust and admiration of their customers. Marketing is how you communicate you brand, activities, and offerings to your customers. Having a solid understanding of what your company brand is will allow you to effectively bring awareness and engagement to your business through strategic marketing.




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