What is the difference between Brand & Marketing?

Which one comes first?

Which one is more important?

Should I prioritise brand building or marketing my products/ services for growth?

So let’s answer the questions about this overlooked but important concept which would be generally applicable to B2C companies offering product or service.


Brand or Marketing: Which one comes first?

The simple answer would be Brand. To elaborate, brand building & management is a parallel process with marketing. But branding, brand strategy & positioning (refer to our blueprint model) needs to be the first step, in order to translate the marketing goals and its execution. Although the answer seems obvious, to my surprise a majority of entrepreneurs don’t know the difference and ignore brand marketing strategy. Branding needs to lay the foundation of what the business or products stands for, the core values/ attributes and importantly the USP or differentiator in its market.


What is the difference between Brand & Marketing?

brand & marketing for startups

As mentioned above, Brand of the company establishes the strategy of what is stands for, how it should be projected and takes on specific brand activities which endear to the brand “culture” for internal consumption and for the external brand experience. Brand activities are beyond the brand and PR intent, tied to the marketing activities/ goals. On the other side, marketing is taking the branded product to the market across channels. ATL, BTL, and digital marketing come under this definition. The differentiator is also that what brand creates and strategizes, marketing takes it forward with distribution, engagement with the target audience and loop back the learning to the next cycle of brand & marketing activities. Strategic brand and marketing consulting, helps to stitch this approach.

Brand is the custodian, Marketing is the extension

Marketing can be creative, Brand is consistent

Marketing can be built high like a tower, brand is the foundation it rests on

Brand is stable, Marketing is dynamic


Which one is more important?

Both. Brand & Marketing are like Yin & Yang that need to not just collaboratively execute but need to synergise in terms of strategy & intent. The team and resources (agencies & vendors) both can be common between marketing and brand management, however, the objectives and activities are different with few overlaps. Hence, making a clear demarcation of roles between brand and marketing is as important as knowing when the time is to merge their activities for the common purpose of business growth. The diagram illustrates those dynamics of inputs required in each but is contextual in application depending on the product and company operating in a particular sector. Both have a distinct role to play but are symbiotic in its operation and impact on the business.

startup branding & marketing

Should I prioritise brand building or marketing startup for growth?

It has to be a parallel activity. You need to continuously build a strong brand that compliments the marketing activities across channels. Short- term marketing pushes the sales but the long-term goals of customer perception, brand/ product loyalty, trust are a continual brand building exercise. This is probably also why few companies have succeeded over a period of time to build charismatic brands and companies that have survived the “lows” of the market due to creative marketing and brand loyalty.


It is important to understand and internalise a brand (organization) culture where brand and marketing sings coherently like a choir or plays like an orchestra. The richness and peak of its performance are dependent how each musician and singer work together closely to render the masterpiece. Hopefully, more entrepreneurs and businesses can interpret and apply this in their own team to create a strong brand and marketing experience for its customers.

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