Branding vs. Marketing how are they different?

Branding vs. Marketing – how are they different?

The number of times we have heard marketing and branding said in the same breath is almost exhausting! If you’re a brand manager or a marketer reading this, we’re sure you know what we mean. And we understand why it is used interchangeably by professionals and across industries. But let us assure you, there is a difference between branding and marketing. So, let’s begin.

The Difference Between Branding and Marketing: An Exercise

But first, an exercise – can you name a popular or preferred shoe, hygiene product, car, or mobile phone brand? A few names our team shared: Shoe – Nike, Hygiene – Colgate, Car – Toyota, Mobile Phone – iPhone.

After a quick deep dive into these choices, we discovered no one on the team was wearing Nike, drove a Toyota, and a handful used the iPhone and Colgate. However, these are the brands that they came up with almost instantly – THIS IS BRANDING. Each of these brands has created a unique place, a popular space for themselves in their respective categories.

On further prodding, we enquire how did they hear, know or experience these brands. This garnered several responses ranging from social media, TV, magazine, and newspaper, to supermarket shelves and discounts, celebrity endorsements, and sporting events. THIS IS MARKETING. Each of these brands is discoverable, create customer loyalty, and are able to sell in the marketplace because of a mix of marketing activities.

[Read: 4 Ways to Engage Your Audience with Interactive Marketing]

The Difference Between Branding And Marketing: Simplified 

Simply put, branding is who you are, what you share, what you look like, and what you want the world to perceive. While marketing is where and how you are visible – in social networks, events, workplace, etc. Both elements are interconnected and interdependent. 

Your company cannot undertake marketing activities without first determining a brand. And a brand cannot become the preferred choice or sell without marketing. Thus, all marketing stems from a clear Brand strategy.

The first thing every business (product or service) must establish once the business plan is in place is- What is the brand we are taking to the customer? This has several nuances, which we will get into ahead. With this brand proposition, a business begins marketing the offerings to various consumers to drive sales. Essentially, while marketing is about acquiring customers and generating sales, branding is about creating a place in the mind of customers and developing a relationship – so that the customer always chooses your brand among a plethora of similar products.

[Read: How Do Brands Measure Customer Satisfaction?]

Fundamentally, this is the difference between branding and marketing. Let’s get a brief understanding of the elements of each and how our digital marketing agency in Mumbai can help your business develop a brand and marketing strategy.

What is branding? 

Every business starts with an idea, product, or service and defines a business plan. Now it’s time to explain finer details on what the business means to the consumer. Branding is about building an emotional connection with the consumer – a relationship. It is a detailed topic to unpack in a blog. There are a few elements business owners can begin with.

Brand Differentiation Strategy –

Every brand has specific Unique Selling Propositions (USPs), and this is what differentiates your brand from the rest of the products in the category. iPhone and Samsung are both phones – but the USP is the user experience and OS, uniquely defined. Some features may even seem similar, but their nuances are their USPs.

What happens when you compare the whole gamut of Android phones? Why does one choose Samsung, then? That is brand differentiation. Some attribute it to product differentiation. The key factor however, is that Samsung has built a unique personality through its personality, user experiences and continues to enjoy brand loyalty even today.

Brand Personality –

Branding is an identity. So the first thing you notice is the brand name and logo – a key identifying factor. The golden arches of _____ and the tick of ____, to the tagline of “Dar ke aage jeet hai” or even the simple sing-song manner of saying ‘Paytm Karo’. Okay, we gave that last one out. But only a few clues, and you can almost instantly identify a brand. 

Personality goes beyond the brand imagery and visual appeal. It’s the brand’s values, ethos, culture, and perceptions that embody the brand. Does your brand resonate and evoke the feelings you want to communicate to the consumer? These build the relationship with a consumer, attracts and holds their attention, and keeps customers coming back.

There is a reason brands such as McDonalds, Nike, Mountain Dew, and Paytm have a strong brand recall. They’ve created strong individual brand personalities, consistently speak their brand language, and – here’s the best part – their brand marketing is equally strong.

Brand’s Final Consumer –

Often the target consumer or audience is discussed in the context of marketing and advertising. However, this target audience stems from the brand’s definition of who its consumers are.

Brand strategy crafted keeping the consumer in mind. The purpose the brand will serve for them, their perceptions, attitudes, behaviours, lifestyles, and more. Branding then designs communications to create a particular brand perception in the mind of the audience to build long-term brand relationships. 

Let’s give you some food for thought. Take a family of 6 persons – grandparents, middle-aged parents, and young adult children. Which stores do you think each of them would shop from?

Local vendors, local supermarket stores, D-Mart or Star Bazaar hypermarket, and online shopping like Jio Mart and Big Basket? Drop us an email at, and our digital marketing agency in Mumbai would love to discuss how brands map target audiences even within each family.

What is Marketing?

Now that the business has defined the brand, it is time to start marketing. Marketing is a set of activities that takes your brand to a defined set of audiences across multiple platforms to achieve sales. This is not relationship-building – it is transactional and focuses on driving sales above building loyalty. What we see today, however, is that several businesses skip the branding stage and directly shift into the marketing stage with a logo, product offering, and advertising ideas.

Understanding the 4Ps of Marketing

This means you’re looking at the 4 Ps of marketing – Product, Price, Place, and Promotion. In most cases the business plan defines the product and its offering and sets competitive prices. Place aka distribution, is a crucial strategy, especially for physical products and services.

A classic case of excellent distribution is the rise of the EdTech industry and online learning. A product and service previously delivered physically are both accessible globally and digitally. The industry is now a mix of innovative tech products, platforms, apps, and more.

What most business owners call marketing is promotions and advertising – a part of marketing. Brands can choose to market traditionally and digitally. Businesses create a mix of marketing tactics ranging from TV ads and flyers to social media ads, content marketing, SEO, and more. These marketing activities take the brand across multiple channels to generate leads and drive sales.

What is the difference between branding and marketing?

The difference is that – NOT all branding is marketing. But all marketing IS branding. A customer’s experience with the support team is part of how a brand communicates, expresses, and offers an experience. This is NOT marketing. But every ad campaign, SEO exercise, and social media content- tweet, story, or email is branding – because the brand expresses itself through a marketing tactic.

Branding and marketing goals often overlap, but the fulfilment of each aims to bring a different result. They also work in tandem with each other, are responsible, and are interdependent in the long run to drive the business and create customer loyalty.

Are you saying branding and marketing to your agency, vendors, teams, and prospective employees in the same breath? Maybe it is time to define expectations from both branding and marketing. The team at Mindstorm enables businesses, start-ups, and large enterprises to set brand and marketing goals and help them achieve them. We’re hoping our blog has helped decode the difference between branding and marketing fundamentally, and we’d love to discuss it more. Connect with us at

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