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Branding vs. Marketing: What's the Difference? And Why You Should Know

· branding,marketing,strategy,digitalbranding,digitalmarketing

Have you ever thought about why some brands can easily be top of mind? These top-of-mind brands have snuck into our everyday lives and became top choice of their product category; ask a designer why she likes buying a certain home furniture brand, or a sports enthusiast why he likes a certain active lifestyle brand, the reasons are normally beyond the look, functionality, and pricing of a product, but what the brand stands for. This is the value of a brand, and global renown brands have spent years pivoting to get this right and eventually transforming into the brands we now know. So how do you become a top-of-mind brand with your branding and marketing efforts? How does branding help with marketing? In this article we'll break it down for you.


What is branding? What is marketing?

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Branding and marketing are two different components of a business. However, they both rely on each other (thus the overlap in the above inforgraphic), and both contribute to the success of the other when applied correctly.


In the grand scheme of building a business, branding always comes before marketing, as you can't really market a brand if it's not designed properly - a brand logo and slogan is not a comprehensive brand.


In other words, while marketing is used to promote your product or service, branding is used to actively shape your brand and who you are. You need a strategy for both as they have different goals and produce different results.


A brand needs marketing to reach its target demographic. A solid branding foundation benefits the marketing efforts as this allows marketing to highlight the products and services and show off the brand's characteristics. During the phase of raising brand awareness, people can become familiar with the brand and what it is about. The same goes for each product(series) launch. With good branding, your team can setup a strong marketing campaign that can generate a maximum return.


Just to make sure we are on the same level of understanding, let's clarify some common misconceptions about branding.

Common Mixups about Branding

Mix up #1: Branding is marketing or advertisement or promotion or anything to that effect

Marketing, advertising, and other promotional activities only communicate your brand's design and product. Your brand is much more than a logo and slogan, it is comprised of your personality, your voice, and your message; branding is the process of establishing these traits.

Mix up #2: You are the ultimate decision-maker of your brand

This is a very common misconception, especially among first-time business owners. Fact is, while you set the tone and get the ball rolling, and while you establish the guidelines for the team to follow and live by as they work with your brand, eventually you will have to let go of certain authorization and let your brand and company become a living and breathing entity with its own set of principles overtime. It is those principles that eventually become the authority of your brand and company in which the team can find guidance in critical moments of the business.

Your customers are the ones who constantly define your brand. They become messengers of your brand and influence their family, friends and co-workers on their perception of it. This iswhy it's very important to select your brand values carefully; otherwise, your brand may be taken the wrong way - or worse, it may fail when you don't see repeat customers.


Mix up#3: There exists a formula for success when it comes to branding

We have grown used to measuring performances. But that doesn't mean there exist a formula to each of these measurable performances. No two companies are alike. There might be a similar process for developing a brand in the same field, however, each business will have a unique idenity overtime.


Truth be told, there is no formula - branding is and always will be a customized experience. The good news is you can measure the success of your brand easily. What you should look at in this case is the behavior and the interests of your target audience.



Marketing and branding go hand in hand. Actually, sophisticated marketing should have branding at its core. Although it is common for new businesses to focus on sales during early stages, statistics have shown building a solid branding foundation early in a business's life is most beneficial to develop clear and constant brand characteristics. Marketing activities can follow and will flourish, being led by the branding foundation a company already has in place. Combining a well-planned marketing campaign with the momentum of a solid branding approach sets any business on the right path to continued success.


About the Writer

Eva Hsu is a creative strategist and founder of Ripplr Digital Branding. Originally from Kaohsiung (TW), she has lived in Oregon (US), Madrid, and currently resides in Shanghai.

As an international citizen, working on cross-culture projects is where she thrives. Be it technology to wellness projects, providing strategy, copywriting and content creation to Ripplr projects while offering the client cross-culture market and social media insights is what gets her out of bed every morning.

If you'd like to receive updates on her work life in Shanghai, her updates can be found here on LinkedIn. If you are on WeChat, welcome to connect to Eva for branding, strategy, social media and business culture tips via her WeChat ID: eva_taipei101.