Branding vs Marketing: Which Comes First?


Branding and marketing, are these two words used interchangeably in your vocabulary? If that’s the case, I’m glad you’re here. Hopefully, by the end of this read, you will form a new understanding of these two concepts that will change your business strategies for the better.  

If you have the tendency to park branding and marketing under the same category when it comes to building your business strategies, it is completely understandable. After all, branding and marketing share overarching objectives and often work closely together to achieve the same outcomes such as building awareness, driving sales, increasing engagement and crafting a good public image. However, branding and marketing are not cut from the same cloth. 

The heart of branding and marketing differs in a variety of ways. Think of these two elements as yin and yang – they are both often seen side by side, but these are two different segments that come with distinct purposes and individual functions.

To help you gain a comprehensive grasp on the subject, I’ll be illustrating the key differences between branding and marketing in this post. I’ll also be addressing one of the most common marketing conundrums – which should come first? Branding or marketing? 

5 Key Differences between Branding and Marketing

Photography by Canva
Difference #1 Long-term vs Short-term

Branding reveals the heart of the company. A well-planned brand strategy is imperative to your business’s success as it helps you nurture your desired target audience and sets you apart from other brands in the market. But branding is a long-term strategic plan for your business as good brands are not built overnight. You will need careful planning and strategising before you can share your brand’s voice with the world. One way to kickstart is by looking at the big picture and creating a long-term strategy – one that also includes short-term goals.

Unlike branding, marketing is a short-term prospect that commonly reflects a company’s promotional activities to achieve seasonal or time-sensitive objectives such as driving sales during the holidays or delivering a message that is aligned with current trends. Do take note that all marketing activities should mirror a business’s branding efforts for an effective outcome.

Photography by Canva
Difference #2 Plan vs Action

Now, have you ever heard of the saying, “Think before you act?”. We like to think that there is a solution to every problem, but sometimes there is more than one solution to choose from. So, how do we decide on the best course of action? This saying states the importance of thinking before saying; in the case of branding and marketing, the importance of planning before action. 

Branding is a strategic plan used to build recognition and loyalty amongst an intended audience. It is a guide that will continuously define your company’s voice, shape your audience’s perception of your brand, and foster a greater, more substantive relationship with your customers, no matter where you are in your business.

Conversely, marketing is a tactical, action-based initiative that actively promotes your business. Marketing strategies are typically short-term and are designed to drive results in sales. 

Photography by Canva
Difference #3 Being vs Doing

Branding focuses on the “who” behind your business. Ask yourself this – are you young and bold or are you calm and sophisticated? Do your personality and beliefs clash with your company’s? I’m sure you’d agree with me when I say branding can have an impact on a business’s internal members as much as it does on its customer base. Your employees, like your customers, must believe in your brand – what your brand is and what it stands for – in order to deliver the message of the company. 

Marketing, on the other hand, focuses on the “doing” within the business. What can your brand offer to your customers and what can it do for you? Marketing is described as the sum of instruments, methods, and strategies used to actively sell a product, service, or company. Will all these be achieved through online campaigns? On-ground events? Influencer marketing? These are all questions to consider when it comes to your marketing strategy. 

Photography by Canva
Difference #4 Why vs What

Branding explains the existence of the company (the “why”). When a company is stripped from its colourful and exciting marketing schemes and activities, what becomes of it? Remember how I said branding reveals the heart of the company? Well, branding goes beyond a company’s logo; it highlights a business’s purpose, position, personality, message, story, or promise in society. So, when it comes to branding, a good place to start is by asking yourself – why was the business set up in the first place?

Marketing shifts the focus from identity to function. Once a business has established who they are and what they stand for, marketing comes in to illustrate what the business is attempting to achieve in a periodic fashion. A typical marketing plan consists of a set of tasks that are followed by specific strategies to gain a particular outcome. Simply put, marketing involves selling the products (the “what”) and figuring out the best method to do so (the “how”).

Photography by Canva
Difference #5 Loyalty vs Response

Did you know that branding also helps to build customer loyalty? Branding is a collection of brand expressions intended to capture and nurture the target audience into becoming and remaining as customers. It is meant to prolong the interests of new and existing customers. In other words, it gives people a reason to stay. 

Marketing is the collection of activities and tactics employed by companies to get their messages out to their target audience with the intention of persuading the audience to buy and use the company’s products. Marketing, as opposed to branding, is more focused on sales and operates on a shorter time frame. There is usually a call-to-action attached to all marketing messages. 

So, which comes first?! I suppose the biggest giveaway is the fact that we’ve discussed branding first throughout this article.

Think of branding as the backbone of marketing since all marketing activities should echo a brand’s given voice. To put it simply, branding sets the stage for marketing because you simply can’t market a brand that you haven’t built yet. 

Nadine is the Creative Director of The Outsiders Co. and is a nonconforming, divergent thinker with a conviction that effective branding is the cornerstone to a successful business.


The Outsiders Co. houses a team of skilful individuals that you can count on for all brand and marketing-related matters. Let us be your guide in achieving your business objectives. Chat with us at to see how we can streamline your branding and marketing strategies!

Sound like your
kind of tribe?

Fill in your deets and we’ll be in touch!