I’m often asked this question and am always surprised that many businesses don’t know – amazingly I even come across some marketers who use the two terms interchangeably. The truth is they are both important but are distinctly different.

Having worked as a marketer for over 30 years I have been responsible for, or involved with, the development and launch of many new brands – from national magazines and newspapers, to online businesses including an insurance aggregation website and one selling green electricity.

In many cases I have then been responsible for the subsequent marketing of those brands but it is branding (and the creation of new brands) which is my real passion.

So, what is the difference between branding and marketing?

What follows is my simple guide that will, hopefully, help you distinguish between the two and see their potential to improve your business.

Branding: a promise delivered

You will find many definitions of what a brand is, but the best I have found describes it as “a promise delivered”.

Simply put, your brand is your promise to your customer. It tells them what they can expect from your products and services, and it differentiates your offering from that of your competitors.

The idea that a brand is a badge, a name or a colour is just a tiny fraction of what a brand actually is.

A company’s brand represents their market identity—who they are, what they do, what kind of quality they provide, their reputation for trustworthiness, and more. Consequently, branding is important to every business large and small and all should develop a clear Brand Strategy and then live by it.

(see also my previous Blog How to define your core Brand Values – and why you should)

Having a Brand Strategy joins together every facet of what you do, how you look, and how you sound or speak to your customers through your marketing communications – here’s why it’s important


  • It creates a clear and consistent identity for your service, based on qualities that are important to the market
  • Positions your products clearly in the minds of customers and prospects, and differentiates your products from competitive offerings.
  • Builds on the strengths of your brand by communicating brand values clearly and consistently through all your marketing communications
  • Creates immediate brand recognition amongst your target audience with consequent impact on your sales success.
  • Enables employees to use a common language when talking about your business
  • Joins together every facet of what you do, how you look and how you sound or speak to your customers

What is Marketing ?

Google the definition of marketing and you’ll find a multitude of them.

The  Chartered Institute of Marketing describes it as “The management process responsible for identifying, anticipating and satisfying customer requirements profitably”.

But, say that to a client and they’re certain to give a puzzled look.

I think a more accessible definition for most people is one which describes marketing as “The process by which companies communicate their brand promise and generate consumer interest in, and demand for, their products or services.”

Yes I grant you, that for those of us who live and breathe marketing, my definition is somewhat simplistic, as in reality, marketing touches every aspect of a business and underpins most efforts to achieve its business goals.

But I said this was intended to be a simple guide so I’ll stick with that…

What do you think? Do you have a better definition of marketing? If so do share it with us…

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