Branding vs. Marketing – What’s the Difference?

New entrepreneurs (and even more experienced ones) are often confused about the difference between “branding” and “marketing.” If you’re reading this, you are probably in the same boat!

You may think that they are the same, or maybe you know that there’s a difference but you’re not sure exactly what the difference is.

Maybe you’re even clear on what each word means, but you’re not sure which one you should focus on first.

The answer to “What is the difference between Branding and Marketing?” is: they are quite different, but they work together to help grow your brand!

Before we talk about how they work together, though, let’s dive into each term and discuss what each of them means and how they work for (or against!) your business.

Defining Branding

To put it simply, branding is what people say about your business when you’re not in the room. Many people think of branding as a compilation of visual elements like logos, colors, and fonts but, while those things do play a key role in branding, the visual component is only scratching the surface of your business’ branding.

Think about the difference between walking into a Walmart store and walking into a Nordstrom. Of course, they are both retailers, but they have completely different vibes as soon as you pull up to the storefront.

When I think about Walmart, I think of words like budget-friendly, convenient, and busy.

When I think of Nordstrom, I think of words like luxury, expensive, and designer brands.

See the difference?

If, per chance, Walmart and Nordstrom were were selling the same handbag at the same price, I would probably choose to get it from Nordstrom because of their branding. Since I perceive Nordstrom to be a more luxury brand, I would choose to spend my money there instead of buying the same item for the same price at Walmart.

(PS- I completely understand that Walmart has its place in our society and definitely am not slamming Walmart! They are my go-to for things like school supplies and inexpensive home decor.)

In order to build solid branding, you need to be aware of things like your brand voice, how you choose to show up, your target audience, your vision for your brand, as well as the more visual elements like your logo and brand colors.

Defining Marketing

Marketing is the strategies you use to get your business, whether it be product- or service-based, in front of your ideal client. It is essentially the promotion and sale of your offer.

In online businesses, marketing can look like social media posts, blog posts, email marketing, ad creation, etc. It can also include things like videos and podcasts, if you are discussing and selling your product or service on those platforms.

The Difference

A wonderful analogy that I’ve seen flating around on the internet is this:

Marketing is like being invited to dinner. Branding is what makes you say yes to the invitation.

Marketing is the invitation- it needs to be beautiful, well-thought-out, and it needs to make people want to show up to your dinner.

Branding is the reason you say yes- if you don’t know, like, or trust the person inviting you to dinner, you won’t say yes. If you admire them and feel that you know them well, you’re going to say yes.

In fact, if you really love the brand, you might say a HELL YES once you get that invitation!

Which is more important?

The fact is, branding and marketing are equally important in building your business.

However, marketing is built on a foundation of branding. Whether or not you realize it, you are branding your business with every blog post, social media post, and Instagram Story.

Whether your branding is well-thought-out and intentional or all over the place and inconsistent is completely up to you, but remember that the branding is what’s going to entice people to spend time on your social media pages or website and (hopefully) eventually become paying clients.

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