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  • Writer's pictureAlex McClain

Branding vs. Marketing



If there are two words you will hear a lot as a business owner and entrepreneur it's : branding and marketing. Often I hear the words being used interchangeably and this blog post will help clear up the confusion. Branding and marketing are NOT interchangeable, but the two elements do help support one another.


Here's what I mean: You can't build a brand with out proper marketing. Having good marketing helps you build a better brand. They each play their own role in helping support the other.


So let's get to it. Exactly what is the difference between branding and marketing?

Let's start with branding. Branding comes before marketing. Your brand identity influences your marketing.


When most people think of branding they automatically jump to the aesthetics of your business. The logo, the design, the colors, the packaging, the website etc. While all of that is a part of branding, there's other key elements that make a difference.


Branding is all about defining how you want others to see and experience your business. Branding is related to how people feel when they use your product or service. Good branding is also connected to a larger story that puts your customer at the center of the plot.

When you're thinking about branding these are questions you want to be able to answer:


  • What do I want my business to be known for? ( core values of your brand)

  • What kind of experience am I creating for my audience?

  • What's the larger story I'm telling?

  • What's the problem that I'm helping my audience solve?


Branding is about connecting to the values of your clients. When I work on branding shoots with clients, I ask them key words or phrases that communicate their brand's values. These are things that I try to make sure are being represented during their session.

Your brand can be shaped around the type of lifestyle your ideal client lives. Are they looking for something affordable? Are they into things that are exclusive and luxurious or classic. All of those things can be expressed in your branding.


Since we got the "meat" of branding out of the way, now we can talk about the visuals. Don't get me wrong, aesthetics are important to your overall brand. But what good is having a pretty logo and website without understanding the why or the purpose behind what you're actually trying to sell to your audience?


Once you get to they why then we can focus on things that make your business look appealing on the outside. So yes, logos do matter. Colors do matter. Certain colors relay certain moods and messages etc. These are things to think through and be clear on. Yes, I would recommend booking a branding shoot or having at least a few headshots done professionally. But at the end of it all, you want to make sure the visuals reflect the core of your brand.


Don't get so caught up on the visual aspect of branding that you don't put the same energy into creating the actual message behind the brand. This is the area many people tend to spend their time only to realize the real branding goes beyond just the visuals.


Now we can move on to MARKETING.



Marketing is how you sell the brand. It's the methods used to tell people about the product or service you provide. A big part of marketing is having a clear message. Having a clear message comes from knowing the why behind your brand. (You see how they play into the foundation of each other?)

Let's start with listing some basic marketing tools:


  • Website

  • Business cards

  • Digital marketing (this includes all social media platforms and buying online ads)

  • Videos

  • Digital products and courses

  • Emails

  • Blogs


I'm sure there are more marketing tools, but these are just a few popular ones that I thought of. I don't believe there is a "right" or "wrong" way to market, but I do believe there are more effective ways to market and they require having a thought out strategy.


For starters I want to get something out of the way: social media alone is not marketing. Social media + strategy + branding = marketing. There are a lot of people who assume marketing is "easy" because we're in the age where we have all this technology at our fingertips and it shouldn't take anything to just "show up" online and be your authentic self.


Well, here's a rude awakening, the reality of that is is if it were that simple we would all be millionaires and online influencers. Marketing isn't just about the tools we use to reach our ideal audience, it's also about the strategy and being intentional about the actual content we create.

What I love most about marketing in 2022 is that there's so much room to be creative and strategic. Here are key things to keep in mind when thinking about marketing:


  • Know your audience and what platforms they are likely to be on. Your audience may not be on every platform, and some of them may not be on social media at all.


  • Don't just rely on social media alone as the only tool to communicate with your audience. I suggest making good use of your website, blogs, email list and newsletters etc. This keeps your audience engaged with your brand through another platform. You don't own any of the social platforms, so it's hard to have complete control. Take advantage of lead generators that will lead your clients back to your website. With these other methods of communication you can speak to your audience directly and stay top of mind.


  • Have a strategy. I'm not talking about posting 3-5x's a day at 8am, 12pm, 2pm etc.Your overall strategy should go beyond that. All your online content, should connect. By this I mean as you create content it should all build up to the client making a purchase. A sell should always be the end goal. Keep the call to action in mind when creating content. Most times people have to interact with you 7-8 times (this number may have gone up*) before making a purchase. Each piece of content you make should help educate and create awareness, solve a problem, and or motivate/ inspire. Everything you create should on some level bring awareness to what you offer and how you can help provide a transformation for your audience.


  • Have a clear message. Start by having a brand statement that states the problem you solve (aka your customer's pain point) and the solution you can provide. From this brand statement you can build the rest of your messaging.


So now that you understand the difference between branding and marketing, let's talk about how they should fit into a larger strategy for your overall business plan.

Once you understand your brand identity it becomes easier to build your marketing strategy. I've heard it said before that branding defines who your business is and marketing helps you know where you're going. I think it's important to note that it's never a question of branding vs marketing but how they compliment each other.


  • Marketing helps to increase your sales and get people's attention through a specific campaign, but branding helps continually build customer loyalty and community relationships with your business.

  • Marketing is the tool(s) used to help your brand reach your business goals and target audience.

  • Marketing methods can change over time, but the foundation of your brand won't. The goal is that your marketing always reflects your brand.

  • Branding helps give your marketing strategy direction.


If you found this helpful, I have additional small business resources available for free HERE!


Interested in working with me? Book a photoshoot experience with me HERE!


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