The Difference Between Marketing and Branding

What is The Difference Between Marketing and Branding?

In order for us to answer this question, we need to first understand what is marketing? and what is branding?  and How do they differ?  There is a no shortage of opinions with respect to this topic, but in my personal view, marketing is the activity of promoting a product or service. It’s a push tactic. Marketing is pushing out a message to get sales results: “Buy our product because it’s better than theirs.” (Or because it’s trendy, or because this celebrity likes it). This is oversimplification, but that’s  in a nutshell it sums it up.

Branding should both precede and underlie any marketing effort. Branding is not push, but pull. Branding is the expression of the essential truth or value of an organization, product, or service. It is communication of characteristics, values, and attributes that clarify what this particular brand is and is not.  A brand will help encourage someone to buy a product, and it directly supports whatever sales or marketing activities are in play, but the brand does not explicitly say “buy me.” Instead, it says “This is what I am. This is why I exist. If you agree, if you like me, you can buy me, support me, and recommend me to your friends.”


Branding is strategic. Marketing is tactical.

Marketing may contribute to a brand, but the brand is bigger than any particular marketing effort. The brand is what remains after the marketing has swept through the room. It’s what continues to stick in your mind and help to you to associate with a product, service, or organization—whether or not, at that particular moment, you bought or did not buy.  The brand is ultimately what determines if you will become a loyal customer or not. The marketing may convince you to buy a pair of Nike shoes, and maybe it’s the first basketball shoes you ever owned, but it is the brand that will determine if you will only buy Nike’s for the rest of your life. The brand is built from many things. Very important among these things is the lived experience of the brand. Did that shoe deliver on its brand promise? Was it light?, Did it support your ankle ? Did the sales guy know what they were talking about?


Marketing unearths and activates buyers. Branding makes loyal customers, advocates, even evangelists, out of those who buy.

This works the same way for all types of businesses and organizations. All organizations must sell (including nonprofits).  How they each sell may differ form organization to organization as will their every action.  Every thought, every action, every policy, every ad, every marketing promotion has the effect of either inspiring or deterring brand loyalty in whomever is exposed to it. All of this affects sales. 

From the financial side of the coins – Is marketing a cost center? Poorly researched and executed marketing activities can certainly be a cost center, but well-researched and well-executed marketing is an investment that pays for itself in sales and brand reinforcement..  Is branding a cost center? – On the surface, yes, but the return is loyalty. The return is sales people whose jobs are easier and more effective, employees who stay longer and work harder, customers who become ambassadors and advocates for the organization. This positive outcome helps to continue to define the brand and those who belong to it in one way or another. Branding is as vital to the success of a business or nonprofit as having financial coherence, having a vision for the future, or having quality employees. It is the essential foundation for a successful operation. So yes, it’s a cost center, like good employees, financial experts, and business or organizational innovators are. They are cost centers, but what is REALLY costly is not to have them, or to have substandard ones.

Let The MGS team help get you on the right path with an update look and overall branding package that will keep you looking uniform, professional and ready to conquer!
Until next time… Stay Creative.