Branding and marketing are often confused, and for good reason. They are so inextricably linked that it’s hard to know where one ends and the other begins. But they do in fact serve distinct purposes. Understanding the difference between brand and marketing – and how they work together – can help your business reach and resonate with your best customers.

One way to think about it—Brand is your way of being in the world. Marketing is your way of doing.

What is Marketing?

Put simply, marketing is the action of promoting and selling products or services. It’s the strategies and tactics you use to reach customers and convince them to do business with you. To name just a few examples, this can include anything from paid advertising and public relations, to social media and content marketing, to referral programs and conferences. There is a vast world of possibility when it comes to marketing strategy.

No matter what strategies and tactics you use, brand is an essential part of it. Any paid advertising worth its salt involves a logo, a value proposition, and some sort of image or graphic. Social media reflects key messaging at its most basic and personality at its best. Even choosing which conferences to take part in says something about your position in the market.

All of those elements come from your brand. Can you engage in marketing tactics without defining your brand first? Sure. But that leaves your business’s identity in the hands of whomever is designing your marketing deliverables at any given moment, which inevitably leads to a fractured brand and confused customers. I believe that brand is too important to leave up to chance, so I always advise clients to build their brand first.

What is Brand?

If marketing is what you do to get people in the door, brand is what they find when they get there. At Roger That, we approach branding in two parts: verbal expression and visual expression.

Visual expression is the way a brand looks and feels – elements like logo, colors, font and images. It’s tempting to start with visual expression because that’s the most tangible part of your brand. But once again, I encourage you to look inward first to ensure that this outward expression of your brand aligns with what you say and how you say it.

Verbal expression is the way a brand speaks and communicates with the world. Your verbal expression defines who you are, what you do, who you serve, how you’re different, and the value you bring. This includes concepts like your value proposition, key messages, personality, and market position. Verbal expression is the core of your brand that everything else is built around.

Is One More Important Than the Other?

Brand and marketing are distinct and equally vital to your business. A strong brand does nothing for you if you don’t do any marketing to get it out in the world, and even the most robust marketing strategy will flop without a strong brand to back it up.

That said, brand absolutely has to come first. The verbal expression of your brand is the beating heart at the center of what makes your business special. Get really familiar with that first, then layer on the visual expression to show it off. With all that in hand, you’ll have everything you need for a marketing strategy to put that brand to work reaching your best customers.

Want to attract and win more customers?

Start by learning how your brand and marketing should be working together to make that happen. We’d love to help you identify where to start. Schedule a free 20-minute consult call so we can talk about it!


Jennifer Ruwart
Founder + CEO of Roger That