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Friday, June 14, 2024

Branding vs. Marketing – Understanding the Difference

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Branding and Marketing, frequently mistaken for each other in industries, pose confusion due to their overlap. Untying the knots of the two is a demanding task, given the diverse perspectives of experts and professionals across industries. The argument is similar to a cheap logo design; some find cost a primary concern, while others seek value. None satisfies us whether we talk to promotion executives, social media managers, or brand managers. We will investigate the domains in isolation and dissimilarities between Branding and Marketing to address the dilemma.

The Core Difference Between Branding and Marketing

Branding summarizes all the company’s sides that define its purpose, values, or identity. While visual elements such as logos, colors, and designs may contribute, it extends much deeper. It forges an emotional bond with its target audience, making its persona recognizable. There’s nothing wrong with a cheap logo design except for insufficient audience research.

On the other hand, promotion spreads the message about its distinct identity through a mix of strategies, tools, and activities. The primary aim of marketing is to shape a memorable perception that influences the buying decision of prospects. It creates a profitable relationship between a brand and its target audience, encouraging them to transact.

Creating a brand is like a reactor that gains energy from marketing initially to energize it further in the long run. Likewise, promotions utilize branding to gain attention while delivering the brand’s message enriching it with a desirable call to action. The former depicts a brand’s values and capabilities, while the latter floats across different channels for broader reach.

The True Essence of Branding

Exploring the true essence will help us identify and classify the relative activities which may hold some resemblance. The topic is complex, fuels different debates, and sometimes stretches beyond the ability of the top experts. For simplicity, we can depend on the sole purpose of an activity to classify it under its heading.

Different Perspectives

The American Marketing Association (AMA) describes branding as a distinct name, term, design, symbol, or combination. The intention to distinguish goods or services of one seller or group of sellers from those of competitors falls under this domain. However, disagreement is imminent as it ignores the role of establishing an emotional connection between the brand and its audience.

Professionals argue that branding segregates its offerings from competitors and establishes a profound relationship. It does so by consistently offering something desirable, wanted, or needed by consumers, as they expect. The reputation and perception of a brand are responsible for a brand image that draws potential clients and influences them.

Take the example of Starbucks for reference. Despite having coffee that might not be the world’s best, customers repeatedly choose Starbucks over competitors. The reason lies in Starbucks’s unique experience, surpassing the need for coffee. A franchise offers a third-place community experience where people gather to work, socialize, and bond. Various aspects form the core of Starbucks’ branding, such as furniture choice, music, artwork, and ambiance.

Brand Equity Model by Keller

Refer to the concept of Brand Equity, which is pivotal in building and maintaining a brand’s value. Brand equity denotes the amplified value a company’s offerings hold due to recognition. The value mostly employs publicizing efforts like advertising, campaigns, and social media pages, while delivering a consistent experience. However, it is not entirely dependent on any of them.

Professor Keller’s Customer-Based Brand Equity Model (CBBE) proposes a framework to measure and evaluate brand equity. The model’s core idea is to create positive feelings, experiences, and perceptions toward the brand for an impactful image. The CBBE model encompasses four stages and six building blocks, as shown in the following visual.


The first stage, Identity, revolves around developing awareness and recognition, associating the brand and its offerings with customer needs. It establishes the core base to build brand equity on which the other pillars stand and take support.


Meaning is the second stage, where consumers seek to understand the brand’s core values, reliability, and quality. It consists of two pillars; Performance and Imagery. The performance tells whether it delivers on its promises, while Imagery focuses on emotional and perceptive value after using its offerings.


The third stage is Response, which measures the customers’ judgments and feelings after experiencing the brand. Favorable judgments and feelings induce an inclination toward the brand gaining advocacy. In contrast, negative judgments lead to criticism, disavows, and rejection.


The top and fourth stage is Resonance, which portrays the pinnacle of brand equity. It describes a profound, strong bond between a brand and a consumer. Such clients become volunteering advocates, supporting the brand in times of adversity through word-of-mouth promotions.

The True Essence of Marketing

Proceeding to the true essence will enable us to recognize and categorize the relevant activities with few intricacies. The domain is well sought after, offers learning material, and consists of distinct activities that are easier to address. Marketing is the medium to find a relevant audience whose expectations align with the brand’s objectives. Once the audience is known, marketers tell them about the brand, its key benefits, and how it can add value. Profitable, long-term relationships are the ultimate aim of a business, whether big or small.

According to the AMA, it comprises activities, establishments, and processes of communication, delivery, and exchange of offerings. Such offerings have some value proposition for customers or society, making them desirable enough to spend resources.

Types of Marketing

The methods fall into two categories; Inbound and Outbound Marketing. Let’s evaluate them on their parameters and differences so we can analyze an activity accordingly. Inbound marketing refers to delivering the brand message by preparing tailored content to attract a specific audience. Contrarily, outbound marketing defines content creation for random distribution to an audience to attract them toward a brand. Let’s discuss them further for a better understanding.

Inbound Marketing

Inbound Marketing attracts consumers through organic content to answer their queries and satisfy their needs. Some common examples are content promotion, SEO, social media campaign, and events. It aims to guide prospects throughout their journey from brand awareness to brand loyalty with a consistent message. There is a list of steps in the buyer’s journey that provide meaningful information according to their search intent.

Outbound Marketing

Outbound Marketing contains different advertisements with a broad perspective to reach more individuals and convert a few. It includes mostly traditional forms like TV ads, billboards, print media, cold calls, and mass emailing. Some forms may interrupt audience activities, but there are modern digital campaigns that enable precise targeting. Numerous appeals and visuals deliver the brand’s message while stimulating emotions for memorability.


In conclusion, while Branding and Marketing share certain areas of overlap, they remain distinct in their purposes. Branding establishes a long-term promise and a compelling story behind a company’s purpose. Promotions pursue a connection with relevant audiences at the receiving end of that purpose. Both go hand in hand to bring clients, sometimes trespassing on each other’s domains to amplify their impact. Where to invest more is another subjective question that needs logical debate. Some advocate empowering a cheap logo design through promotions, while others advise the opposite. However, the best branding agency with marketing experience knows what’s best for your brand.

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