Here's the Real Difference Between Branding and Marketing

by Brian James Rawson
October 29, 2019

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Why Branding And Marketing Are Confused

The words “branding” and “marketing” tangle up more than old ear bud cords. Why? Because they are used as synonyms, which is wrong. Why? Because they are two different concepts.

Yes, they connect. Yes, they live in symbiosis. Yes, your business depends on them for its survival. But they require different skill sets and strategies. So, let’s go from knotted cords to wireless ease. Let’s breakdown and learn:

1. what is branding;

2. what is marketing;

3. how they are different;

4. and how they connect.

Branding is Your Visual Presentation

To help understand the difference between marketing and branding, picture your business as a solar system. And your product/service are the solar system's core, it's sun, which everything else (branding, marketing, promotion, public relations, advertising, etc) revolves around. And the first orbit surrounding your sun is branding. Branding is the visual and verbal identity of your business. It’s how you look and sound to others. Let me switch to another image to unpack this.

Instead of thinking about the solar system, think of the new guy at work. Before you ever talk to them, you see them from across the room. You see how they dress, how they stand and sit, how they communicate with their body language. You haven’t talked to them yet. You haven’t heard anything about them yet. But from just this visual messaging, this visual presentation you form an impression of them.

For instance, imagine if your new coworker showed up greatly overdressed, you’d form one impression. If they showed up greatly underdressed, you’d form a totally different impression. This visual impression is akin to the visual component of branding. But there’s one more aspect to branding, the verbal component.

Branding is Your Verbal Presentation

Now, imagine getting up and introducing yourself to your new coworker. Now, you hear what they sound like. You hear the timbre of their voice. You hear how loudly or quietly they speak. You hear their regional accent. You hear how they construct sentences and syntax. You hear what words they choose to express their ideas. Your brain combines this verbal information with the visual information to create a more detailed impression of this person.

This combination of visual and verbal information to create an impression is branding.

This process is just the mechanics of branding. We are not talking about how to create positive or negative branding, a weak or strong impression. How to create a memorable brand, how to craft your visual and verbal message to create the exact impression you want others to have of you is a whole separate article. Right now, we’re just defining our terms. Speaking of terms, let’s now define marketing.

Marketing is Word of Mouth

Back to our solar system. 1. Your product/service is the core, the sun. 2. Branding is the first orbit out: mercury, earth, visual and verbal information. 3. Marketing is like moons that circle around your branding.

Another way to think of marketing is like evangelism (and I mean no sarcasm or disrespect). Marketing is spreading the gospel, the good word of your product/service to all nations. Back to the new guy example. You formed an impression of them by how they look and how they sound. Then you learned more about them from your friends, from what others say about them, from reputation, from gossip, from water-cooler chit chat.

A. The visual and verbal information that this new guy sends out is branding.

B. The word of mouth about this new guy is marketing.

Of course, what your new coworker tells people about themselves affects the word of mouth sent out about them. And how they tell people also affects the word of mouth. Then when the new guy hears some of the chit chat about them, this feedback affects what they then tell people, and etc, etc, etc. This scenario begins to show how branding and marketing work together.

How Branding And Marketing Work Together

One more time, back to our new guy. Imagine after seeing them, talking with them, and hearing about them, you finally get to actually work with them, to really interact with them, to see their skill set in action.

Now, you combine: 1. the word of mouth, 2. with the visual and verbal information, 3. with their service.

This is similar to how your product/service, your branding, and your marketing all work together.

Your Branding And Marketing Must Be Balanced

Back to our solar system image, envision: The sun creating gravity. The planets pulling on the sun. The two balancing and holding each other in place. And finally, the moons balancing the planets, keeping them in orbit which then keeps the sun in place.

Your product/service combines with your branding; and your product/service and branding combine with your marketing.

Now, envision: A moon sliding out of orbit. This sets the planets spinning. And that breaks the gravitational support of the sun, which then causes your (business) solar system to implode.

Your product/service, your branding, and your marketing are each their own entity, but all three must work together. A thriving business is one that masters each one of these elements, and masters placing them in perfect equilibrium. Your business needs to balance all three orbits of product/service, branding, and marketing. If you don't, the unbalanced orbit will push away and knock out your customers and clients.

For instance, you may have a great product/service but what if it looks cheap? What if you have a lackluster brand? Or what if you may have a great product/service and it looks and sounds great, but no one ever hears about it? Or what if everyone hears about it, but your product/service is terrible? Etc, etc, etc.


So, today, we've talked about how branding and marketing connect and interact with your product/service. And we've talked about how important it is to maintain balance across your product/service, branding, and marketing.

Today, we've talked about the big picture, but we haven't zoomed-in on the details. We haven’t talked about how to effectively market your business, and we haven’t talked about how to create a compelling brand.

But don't worry. In our other articles, we cover these topics. You can read about how to create a brand here: How to Really Build a Brand That Wins Trust and Gains Value.
And in our upcoming articles, we will talking about how to market your business and nonprofit. But if you don’t want to wait, then don’t. Let’s talk right now.

Schedule your free starter meeting below.

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