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Branding vs Marketing: The Difference Between Branding And Marketing 2021

To exist as a business in this day and age means having an identity and being able to tell the public about that identity.

These concepts are known as branding and marketing. It is no secret that your company needs both these things in order to survive and grow.

As a modern business, having an online presence is a necessity. When online, you have to have online marketing and online branding.

You may be wondering what are the differences between the two. 

Having a branding and marketing strategy will benefit your company in various ways. Later on in this article, you’ll be able to learn what the key differences are between branding and marketing.

Both these concepts share the same essential overarching goals, which is to build your business over a period of time, and make that growth sustainable. It does this by attracting and engaging the public.

Eventually, positive engagements should lead to conversions into sales, and hopefully to repeat customers.

Good branding and marketing strategies should also be able to inspire brand loyalty in customers, whereby customers stay with your brand throughout their lives. 

To start your plan for branding and marketing in your business, it is important to first fully understand both these concepts thoroughly.

This way, you will be able to realign your business goals, identity and direction.

We will explain the differences between branding and marketing in the coming sections. 

What Exactly Are Branding And Marketing?

The concepts of branding and marketing are both necessary to achieve good performance in terms of sales and profits.

You cannot have one without the other and you’ll need to bring out the best in your company through both marketing and branding. 

In short, branding is what your business is, and marketing is how to raise awareness about that identity.

As we examine both these concepts in detail, it is important to remember that they’re not complex concepts. Anyone can carry out marketing and branding for their companies. 

Some experience will be of great help, but is not necessary for you to start planning your own branding and marketing strategy, especially when it involves

What Exactly Is Branding?

Branding is actually a concept that exists within marketing. It concerns your company identity and character. This identity and character will then help you decide many other aspects about your business. 

Branding should always come first before marketing, as branding determines the main principles of any marketing campaign that you may plan in the future. 

One thing  to keep in mind is that .branding is forever. Branding is something that has to be consistent throughout your company’s existence. Marketing campaigns may come and go but your brand identity should remain the same. 

One of the first questions you have to ask yourself during the branding process is ‘What are my core values?’. For example, if you run a business providing printing services, your core values would probably include punctuality and delivering quality products. 

Another set of things you’ll often see companies doing is to determine their mission statement and objectives. 

For example, if you own the same printing company as before, your mission statement would involve your general objectives to become the best printing service in your local neighborhood, and then your state, and on to the whole country.

Other aspects of your business that your brand identity will help determine include:

  • Target audience and potential customer demographics
  • How you want people to talk about you as a company
  • Tone of voice for marketing
  • Internal company culture
  • Unique points that set you apart from competitors
  • Character when communicating with the public 
  • Level of formality and standard of professionalism 
  • What is the first thing that comes to mind when your brand is mentioned
  • First impressions you want to create with the public
  • Internal SOPs for everyday operations
  • Company direction 
  • Types of marketing campaigns to carry out
  • Logo, taglines, core design principles


Bata, a brand many Malaysians are familiar with from their childhood, has not changed its logo from decades ago. Source: Bata@Instagram

In essence, it’s important for any business to come up with a branding concept first. Only then can you plan and strategize the marketing aspect of their business.

Without a set identity for your business, marketing can be a challenge. It would be like setting off in a ship out at sea without a fixed destination and not knowing what you want to achieve. Therefore, branding would be an essential first step for any business. 

How About Marketing

Marketing is a collection of programs, tools, actions and campaigns to raise awareness about the existence of your business. It also highlights the products or services you provide.

Effective marketing is able to draw positive attention to your business.  These days, many businesses are going online for their marketing campaigns. The main reason for this is that online marketing is able to reach more people. A digital marketing strategy  will be more effective especially when it is targeted at the right people. 

To be fair, marketing is much more flexible than branding. With branding, you have to generally keep the same company identity throughout your existence. Marketing however, has to change with the times. 

In the past, many companies relied on traditional marketing approaches like television or radio ads, billboards, pamphlets, fliers and word of mouth. Nowadays, with the existence of social media, marketing has taken a new dimension.

 Many businesses have to rethink their marketing strategies to fit the demands of social media.

Traditional vs digital marketing has therefore become an issue that many businesses face.

Any type of marketing strategy that is employed needs to have a single goal in mind, which is to attract traffic to the business and convert that traffic into sales.

 Modern online marketing has the advantage of providing more engagement and more intimate customer service. This is because the main method for marketing is through social media platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, Youtube and more.


McDonald’s Malaysia runs marketing campaigns every few months for new products or packages. Source: McDonalds FB

 These social media platforms provide a quick and easy way for businesses to interact with members of the public, through things like comments, private messages, polls and the like.

This level of close two-way interaction was previously impossible with traditional forms of marketing.

Good and effective marketing is dependent on one thing; great content. When we talk about content, this involves things like copy texts, blogs, videos, images, infographics, charts and more.

One aspect of content that will help it stand out and be more visible to the right target audience is SEO, or search engine optimization. This is a method whereby certain key words and phrases relevant to a niche need are inserted into a content, making it show up more prominently when searched online. 

In short marketing involves, but is not limited to, the following aspects:

  • Search engine optimization (SEO)
  • Having and maintaining social media accounts
  • Social media posting
  • Social media interactions with the public
  • Answering questions and enquiries in direct messaging
  • Using auto chat bots to engage customers
  • Promotions and competitions
  • Social media ads
  • Print campaigns, TV and radio ads.
  • Social media management

The Main Differences Between Branding and Marketing in 2021

As more and more businesses join the race for online marketing, there is only one way that you can stay on top and stay competitive.

This is by keeping up with the latest branding and marketing trends. 

Since you already understand the main difference between branding and marketing, it would help now to research how you can use both of these to drive your company’s growth. Here we highlight the most obvious ways branding and marketing differ.

1. Marketing Attracts Customers’ Attention, But Branding Keeps Them Hooked

A marketing campaign must be able to turn heads. This means it must be attractive enough that people remember your brand and tagline. 

In the world of social media, some brands have managed to accomplish this very well. In Malaysia, one company that everyone remembers is Petronas.

They’re well known for their touching ads that reflect the Malaysian identity perfectly.

However, even though Petronas has great video advertisements, it needs something else to keep customers coming back to its brand. Petronas is primarily a chain of petrol stations, and it has to depend on its identity of good service to achieve customer loyalty. 



Petronas is known for its touching ads that promote the Malaysian identity. Source: Youtube

Over the years, brands that have managed to survive and prosper for a long time in Malaysia, like Petronas, have molded an identity through branding.

For example, when you pull into a Petronas petrol station, you can expect much more than just petrol.

Their petrol stations provide convenience stores with drinks and food, ATMs, top ups and a variety of counter based services. Therefore, they are also a place to rest and relax while on the road. 

This is one key aspect of branding that needs to go along with marketing.

Excellent customer service, fostering long-term customer relationships and delivering products and services that are consistent in quality.

2. Marketing Drives Sales, Branding Drives Recognition and Loyalty

You may have encountered businesses with a novel, attractive concept. At first, they attract lots of consumers because they have a unique product.

However, after some time, they are unable to sustain their initial success. 

The key to longevity and sustainability as a business is having a firm branding in addition to marketing. Having a unique product is not enough.

You also have to work on company operations and culture, to provide service that is unrivalled. 

For example, if your marketing campaign on Facebook is able to generate more than 1000 page visits per month, but there is no system in order to follow up with any of these visitors within your company. 

If this happens, customers can feel left out or neglected, and therefore lose interest in your brand. That is why a significant portion of branding is coming up with a customer engagement and follow-up protocol.

Malaysian brand Tealive provides many ways for customers to ask common questions. Source: Tealive Asia

Customer service is a large part of branding. It is the daily task of answering questions, assuring customers and generally providing your customers with an awesome after-sales experience. 

Customer service also means providing a warranty or maintenance for a period of time for your products and services. This ensures that your customer will recognize your brand and develop an esteem for it. 

Customers that develop a respect for your brand will tend to come back to it repeatedly, and this is called brand loyalty. Brand loyalty is a key factor in ensuring that your company is sustainable in the long run. 

3. Branding Comes First, Marketing Comes Second

Whether you’re just starting your business or have been running one for some time, it’s important to focus first on your branding. 

Branding should always be your priority and not marketing. Focusing on marketing efforts without any solid branding in place can cause you to make mistakes. 

These mistakes can cost your business valuable time, money and publicity. It is almost like having an egg without any filling. Once you crack that egg, there isn’t anything good underneath. 

Branding, as in deciding what values your business holds, should be something you determine first. Marketing is how you communicate those values to your customers. 

As a business, you need your message to be congruos and consistent. It cannot be changing every few weeks or few months.

For example, if you’re a cafe that sells healthy foods with a positive vibe, using language that is also positive would be the best way to communicate to your customers your commitment to health and wellness.

In a recent case, a Singaporean cafe came under heavy criticism from the public when they used the word ‘nasties’ to describe a regional dish in an Instagram post. 

Despite their good intentions, this cafe had to take down a post. Source: The Ritual

Despite having good intentions and core values, which was to promote healthy eating, the use of a negative word to describe a well loved nasi padang was not well received. This cafe, called The Ritual, had to apologize for their post and take it down. 

In order for your brand to avoid such incidents, it is imperative to sit down and determine the tone of voice that best represents your brand, and determine what types of phrasing to avoid.

This branding exercise may seem trivial and unimportant, but it will save your brand from any untoward incidents in the long run. 

4. Marketing Strategies Come and Go, But Branding is Forever

One of the main differences when we’re considering branding vs marketing is how branding forms the core of your business. It has to be tailored to fit your company over time, and should be an identity or a message that will resonate throughout the decades.

Marketing is a lot more flexible, as it depends on the current trends and seasons. For example, if you’re coming up with a new product, you’ll have to launch a marketing campaign to introduce and raise awareness about it. 

Marketing is also heavily influenced by current trends. For example, these days it is one of the ‘in’ things to conduct a live stream session on Facebook, or Instagram in order to introduce and sell your products.

Commercial live streaming sessions, coupled with the presence of influencers helps promote brands on social media. These new ‘influencer marketing’ and ‘live streaming’ trends are the most popular marketing modes today. 

However, only time will tell if they will still be trendy 10 years from now. At that time, there will perhaps be newer marketing trends appearing. 

As a brand, you should always be ready to discover new marketing methods and trends. At the same time, you have to ensure that your core identity and core message does not change. 

Gardenia is one of the oldest commercial bread brands in Malaysia, yet they have managed to keep their branding ( like tagline, logo and signature designs) consistent over the decades. Source: Gardenia KL

5. Branding Affects Your Team as Much as Your Customers 

When you’re determining your branding, you don’t just determine your company’s identity for customers.

You’re also determining your identity for your employees and stakeholders. 

Branding determines internal aspects of your business too, such as the tone of internal communications, SOPs, how to handle crises, problem solving and the like. It determines how much freedom or control you exert over your employees.

Any company that has good branding also has a good work culture. They will be able to eliminate things like workplace bullying and minimize stress. 

In the end, if your company has a healthy and professional culture, it will reflect on the customer experience too. 

For example, in Malaysia, Maybank has one of the highest ratings for employee satisfaction. This high employee satisfaction level has helped  Maybank achieve its status as the largest bank in Malaysia in terms of market capital and assets, as well as number of customers. 

Employee satisfaction will contribute to great customer experience too. Source: Maybank@JobStreet

The Importance of Understanding Branding Vs Marketing

To generate marketing that is relevant, current and effective, you need solid branding. Branding may not be something you can develop overnight. Sometimes, you need to experience various things as a business in order to improve and perfect your branding. 

However, some basic branding is necessary to start with. These include things like values, a logo, basic design themes, tone of voice, etc. 

From here, you’ll be able to start planning various marketing programs for the top social media sites and offline too. 

Here at One Search Pro, we provide both branding and marketing services, which includes a complete suite of consultation services to take your brand to the next level.

If you would like to find out more marketing tips from our expert consultants, check out our blog section today!

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