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If you are a small business, a large corporation, or anything in between, it is important to know the difference between branding and marketing. Both of these terms get thrown around in the field together, but it’s extremely important to understand what the terms encompass as they stand on their own because they both, together, are pivotal in the success of your business.


Branding is how you choose to advance your product or service by connecting it with a particular brand - it’s your brand’s reputation and personality. It’s the image and culture you project to the public about your business - it’s about YOU. The brand is how people feel when they see your brand, how you make them feel when they interact with you, the ideas associated with your company, and more. Individuals, as well as businesses and corporations, must think about their brand and the perception of that brand every single time they make a decision, produce a product, make a statement, or advertise. Branding is about defining who you are and is always evolving. Branding is the action of bringing your brand (business/organization) to life. Your brand does include your logo, colors, tagline, website, place of business and anything else people associate with your company and that’s where branding and marketing come together.

Real Life Application

I have vivid memories of my grandmother never leaving the house without putting on her lipstick. She was one of the hardest working women I know - on the farm, in the kitchen, as a mother - you name it, she worked. But she always did it with her lipstick on. That was part of her brand - a polished, hardworking woman.

What’s your one thing? What is it that people can say about you or your business? What is the one constant that you want people to remember about your brand (as an individual and as a company)? The whole package is incredibly important because every time someone sees your brand, they think of all the little things that it entails. They even think of the things you can’t see - the thoughts, the feelings, the work, the emotion, and the connection they have with it.

Your brand always matters!


Marketing is how you get the word out about what you are selling, purchasing, promoting, or distributing. Bottom line: it’s the detailed plan that’s going to make your profits grow or see your business not bloom as much as you might like. A brand shapes how we choose to market. It tells us who we want to market to (the target audience) and how we want to communicate with them. No matter if you are working to “sell” yourself to a potential employer while on the hunt for a job or “promote” your newest product line to your target market, you have to think about how your marketing will affect your brand and how your brand should guide the marketing choices you make.

Real Life Application

My family has a favorite local ice cream shop in Montana. It doesn’t matter if it is winter or summer, we don’t miss the chance to stop in multiple times during our time there. We went for the first time because friends recommended it (word-of-mouth marketing tactic). We selected flavors based on the way the sweet treat was marketed inside the shop (creative descriptions on the menu board), even if the flavor we love wasn’t available. We go back time and time again because of the wonderful experience we have every single time we stop in (being consistent). For this ice cream shop, a planned marketing effort drives sales of the flavors they have at any given time.

The purpose of marketing is to activate buyers…to locate clients…to secure customers. Through what you hope will be a positive experience, you will gain loyal followers of your brand because of the emotional connection that is created. No matter what you are “selling,’’ these are the people that will come back over and over - ultimately keeping your doors open.

The marketing strategy must always be on point!

Putting it All Together

Branding vs. marketing: To recap, branding is the look, feel, concepts, ideas, and ultimately, the image associated with a brand (business/organization). And, marketing is the tactics and plan to keep bringing people to the brand. If you forget or neglect one, the other will suffer and a constant friction will likely be present. What matters most is that you have a plan for putting it all together - branding and marketing working in harmony.

branding vs. marketing infographic oak + willow creatives


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