Branding is important for your business.
While there is some overlap between the two, there are several key differences between marketing and branding and both can benefit your business. — valentinrussanov/Getty Images

When it comes to marketing your business — whether it’s running ads, posting on social media channels, sending emails, creating newsletters, etc. — there is often some discussion of branding, as well. In some cases, business owners may even think of marketing and branding as the same thing, despite the two playing different roles in telling people about your company.

Let’s dive in and discuss the roles branding and marketing play and how branding informs marketing.

What is branding?

In essence, branding is the process of establishing who your company is and what it stands for. As you initially develop (or perhaps reinvent) your company, you should make a serious effort to determine your brand’s personality and voice. You need to do the work of finding out what features set you apart from other companies.

Mission and values

One of the most important parts of branding is establishing a mission statement, which will help set the tone and what you should expect your employees and customers to know about you. Your mission can help you determine your overall goals and your presence in the market.

To help establish your branding further, your company should be asking and answering questions, including:

  • What values and principles do you support?
  • What do you believe in?
  • What type of culture does your company support?
  • What sets you apart from other companies in your space?
  • What emotions do you want people to feel about your company?
  • How do you want customers to perceive you?
  • How will people identify you?
  • Why do you exist?

Look, feel and guidelines

Another critical aspect of branding is establishing your general visual aesthetic, which includes things such as company logo, typography, color palette, photography, icons, patterns and shapes. Your senior leadership should work together with a graphic designer or an agency on all of these things, which will create your visual identity. The materials you make will then be able to be used on your website, ads, social media channels, sales collateral, branded content and much more.

To help you keep all of your visual aesthetics consistent, your company should create a set of brand guidelines and a brand style guide. Guidelines and a style guide can provide details such as how your logo should appear, what colors you should use in each circumstance, what fonts you use, what type of photography and images should be used, the tone of your copy and more.

Advertising creates opportunities to connect your company with potential customers.

What is marketing?

The purpose of marketing is to bring your brand and what you offer as a company to a general or targeted audience. Your marketing department may use all kinds of tools and strategies to help raise awareness and sell your company’s services or products, but your branding should remain consistent throughout.


One of the most significant components of marketing is building compelling advertising campaigns to help sell your products or services. Advertising can typically be split into two buckets — traditional and digital. Traditional advertising methods include print ads, billboards, television and radio. Digital ads include search engine ads, social media ads, sponsored content, online video pre-roll ads and website banner ads. The majority of ad budgets now go into supporting digital and online advertising.

Advertising creates opportunities to connect your company with potential customers. You should perform research both before and after you advertise to reach your desired customers and understand them better. As you learn about your customer’s needs and desires, your advertising methods can evolve.

Enabling sales

Advertising and other aspects of marketing primarily exist to help your sales team do their jobs. No matter the style of the campaign you are running, they should all lead people to engage with your company and then give salespeople the opportunity to close the deal. Your sales team should be talking regularly to your marketing department in order for them to understand what aspects of marketing customers are responding to.

How branding informs marketing

Now that you understand the basics of branding and marketing, it should be easier to see that they are different but related. As you develop your company, branding should come before marketing because you should fully establish your mission and personality before trying to attract customers. Think about it this way: If you don’t know your company voice and you don’t have a logo and tagline, you can’t effectively create meaningful advertising campaigns. Or if you do go about creating ads without doing some branding work, your ads will likely be haphazard and inconsistent.

Branding can and should have a serious impact on how you perform marketing. If your brand has a playful or serious tone, for example, that should be reflected in your marketing campaigns. Additionally, marketing can reinforce your brand to instill loyalty that will keep your customers coming back for more.

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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