The Difference Between Branding and Marketing

Branding and marketing — they live in the same house and have to play nice for your brand to thrive, but they’re wildly different disciplines that require unique skillsets, processes, and deliverables.

Branding seems to be the new favorite buzzword. Almost every “agency” seems to lay claim to it: marketing agencies, PR firms, web/digital-focused agencies. It’s a very popular add-on to lists of services these days. Understandably so, because in order to do marketing right, you have to do branding right.

Branding precedes marketing. It’s the most fundamental discipline to a business or product’s success.

Branding is the strategic and creative concoction of ingredients that represent your business or product in the marketplace, influencing perception and creating intentional emotive impressions. It’s the tangible creation of invisible qualities: who you are, why you exist, and what makes you unique.

Marketing is the manifestation of those defined brand characteristics and assets in a tactical plan that aims to raise awareness and increase engagement.

Both are strategic in nature and require creative execution to be done well. Both are necessary for a business to thrive long-term. But that’s about where the similarities end.

Marketing is science. Branding is art.

Of course, that statement is debatable and somewhat of an overstatement to drive home a point, but I do believe some fundamental truths make it mostly true.

Branding is primarily finding, defining, clarifying, aligning, synthesizing, and creating. It’s about crafting a unique narrative and then designing it in a way that creates emotional connections. Marketing is mostly planning, scheduling, distributing, advertising, communicating, engaging, and converting. It’s about drawing people into the brand. But without a clearly defined brand, there’s nothing to draw them into.

Your brand strategy and brand identity shouldn’t radically change over time, but rather evolve and mature and refine slowly and steadily. Your marketing strategy, however, can change over short periods of time and adapt, iterate and experiment.

Your brand is the platform that your marketing dances on.

Or, branding is the fashioning of the quiver, bow, and arrows. Marketing is the pull back and release of the arrow toward a target.

Branding and marketing require vastly different areas of expertise. At WonderWild, we don’t claim to do marketing because we aren’t built to do it well. We’re focused on brand identity, pushing all our eggs in this one basket to maximize the value we can create for our clients and ultimately increase their impact. Because we’re all-in on branding, we aren’t built to do marketing well because they’re so different. Thankfully, we have some fantastic partners to refer our clients to depending on their needs.

And ultimately, this serves the client better, enabling them to maximize value by working with focused specialists.

Branding and marketing are both powerful tools to be utilized for your business, product, or brand growth. Knowing the role of each, and making sure you have a clarified brand strategy and well-designed brand identity will do wonders for your marketing’s mission and success.

The next time you hear branding and marketing blurred together, give pause.

Brand first. Brand focused. Know who you are, what makes you unique, and how you present yourself to the world. Then take that brand to market and manifest your brand ethos to the world.

About WonderWild
We are a brand identity + design studio that helps brands level-up through emotionally compelling design. Want to talk about your brand? I’d love to hear if we can help you create meaningful differentiation:

Let us help your brand become the best it can be.

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