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Branding vs. Marketing – What’s the Difference?

January 16, 2022

Branding and graphic design services for businesses across New England that have a focus in food, lifestyle and e-commerce.

Let’s Explore Misconceptions About the Differences Between Branding and Marketing

If you’ve ever felt like you can’t quite wrap your head around which does which, you’re not alone. Having worked in both these industries for five years, I’ve learned that there is a ton of confusion (even among corporate professionals!) about the distinction between branding and marketing.

And the reason being – you can’t have one without the other.

#1: Are Branding and Marketing the same?

Nope! This is a BIG misconception. So, let’s dive into how each of they industries are different, similar, and how they can each serve your business.

What is Branding? – Your Business’s ‘True North’

In essence, branding and brand strategy are about digging deep into the persona of what your brand represents, your core values, and the company identity, style and characteristics you want customers to associate with your business. 

When starting out, these are key questions we encourage our clients to focus on as the brand strategy process:

  • What are your business’s core values?
  • What’s your mission statement?
  • What emotions/feelings do you want your brand to project outwardly?
  • What makes your business unique?
  • What do you want to come to mind when someone hears your business name?

This information is used as part of your company’s brand strategy to help narrow down and define who your ideal customers and target audience(s) are. This way, your branding materials (logo, color palette, typographic, icons, etc.) are not only true to you, but also speak to the customer demographics you want to attract.

This brand toolkit is the True North to which your business can orient itself to, and can be used as the guidepost when creating brand awareness, and should be used as a source for unique storytelling to draw in your ideal customers.

When starting your business, branding can serve as the guidepost or compass for attracting your ideal customers and maintaining your core values.
Successful branding is at the core of your business’s identity, and can help you stay the course, maintain your core values and guide you through thick and thin!

What is Marketing? – The Map Used to Build Brand Awareness

You could have the most amazing brand design, and most delicious or beautiful product in the world, but if no one knows about you, well… you won’t get very far. Marketing is all about making people aware of your product or service, and using the right tools to deliver the message of your brand.

That’s why the marriage between branding and marketing is so important; marketing get’s your brand in front of the right people, and says ‘hey, check this out!’. Ultimately your marketing strategy is what helps drive sales and helps convert potential customers into conversions.

Here are just a few examples of marketing you may use to promote your business:

  • SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
  • Content marketing (Copywriting, Blog posts, etc.)
  • Email Marketing
  • Fundraising Campaigns/Collaborations
  • Social Media
  • Paid Digital Advertising
  • Print Advertising
  • TV/Radio/Podcasts

#2: Does branding come after marketing your business?

You may have guessed it, but without that compass pointing True North – i.e. your brand identity clearly defined – it’s easy to get lost in the forest.

When your brand materials are built with intention, it makes knowing how to deliver the message of your brand that much easier. If you’re a new or emerging business, we recommend starting with branding first. Then, once you’re crystal clear on these core pillars, choosing which marketing platforms to focus on will flow more naturally.

#3: Once your logo and design is complete, is your branding finished?

The #1 question I get as a graphic designer is ‘do I need a rebrand?’. For many businesses, this question can arise when the focus has been too heavily put on marketing. If we go back to our navigation analogy, if branding is True North, we’ve got to make sure we check back in on that compass consistently, in order to gain ground.

“People want to do business with brands they can get behind and brands they believe in—so while marketing will help break through the clutter and get your brand in front of the right people, if you want to keep it there, you need to build a brand that people can connect with.”

-99 Designs

One key method we use to help our clients address this concern – no matter what stage they are in – is helping build elevated customer experience. This might be as simple as a branded note card they send to each customer, or custom packaging. Or in might be direct-to consumer experience that leaves the customer wanting more!

Looking for an example of how branding and marketing works in tandem together to create a positive customer experience?

Check out this video all about Warby Parker’s Home Try-On Experience, and their unique packaging.

#4: Is R. S. Creative a Marketing Agency?

If you’ve read this far, you may have guessed that we have a passion for this stuff! We LOVE working with you to strategize about who your business is and build your brand identity through graphic design. But just like any business, we too have our niche, and know our strengths.

While you can’t have branding without marketing, we’re excited to be focused in the brand design and customer experience space! Have a question about our services? Inquire with us, and we’ll see if we’re a good fit!

Rachel Sotak Creative is a graphic design studio mainly focused in providing branding strategy, brand design, and digital collateral to businesses in the food, lifestyle and e-commerce industries.
Our services focus mainly on providing branding strategy, digital collateral and elevating the customer experience.

Learn all about what it’s like to work with us, and see a full list of our branding and design services HERE.

#5: Is investing in branding solutions going to make my business money?*

*This moment?… probably not.

Branding is all about intention, vision, and sticking with it. This is one of the key differences between marketing and branding: your marketing tactics should be malleable, flexible and adaptable based on the season, local/global events, and other trends in order to drive sales

On the flip side, branding takes a longer-term approach, by continuously building company recognition, customer loyalty and fostering connection with your brand over time. This pays off in the form of repeat customers who trust your brand’s core values and the product/service you offer.

When it comes down to brass tax, deciding what to spend money on for your business can be stressful. That’s why we’re proud to offer custom proposals, personalized payment plans and only ever suggest solutions we think align with your business’s goals!

Inquire today and share what stage your business is in, and we’ll set you up with a custom proposals, tailored to your business needs!

  1. Elaine says:

    This definitely makes me think harder about what I need to set my work apart. The idea of brand seems large for just one person, but worth considering.

    • Rachel Sotak says:

      Thanks so much for reading Elaine! Yes – branding can feel like a lot for one person to take on if you don’t have that initial foundation to build upon. But as an author, I’m sure your work has its own inherent ‘brand’ or style that your fans/readers return to! Tap into that 😉

  2. […] welcome package is a great way to showcase your brand voice and brand pillars. For example, if your brand is all about sustainability and providing eco-friendly products, make […]

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