Branding vs Design vs Marketing–What’s the Difference?

In the digital age it can be very easy to believe that just starting a website is enough to get customers for your business. However, for any entrepreneurs or small business owners reading this, we all know that this simply isn’t the case. Instead, we must present them in a way that makes them attractive for audience. However, knowing the intricacies and what they want can be very difficult, which is where today’s blog topic comes in. We will examine the differences between the three components; branding, marketing, design to better understand them and how they work together.

In any brand strategy it can be tough to understand and clearly delineate the differences between the following three concepts: branding, marketing and design, especially as they relate to online business.

In order to discuss how these three concepts work together, it’s important to know what each one is and how they all work synergistically to enhance each other.

What is Branding?

Before we explore what branding is, it’s important to brush up on what a brand is.

A brand is the personality behind a company.
For example, a company provides a service or sells a product, however the “brand” is the style behind how that company presents itself to the public.

This is why we think of McDonald’s as a friendly place, because we think about the catchy jingles, and the children’s character, Ronald McDonald. The red-headed clown does more than just appeal to Happy Meal customers, he also makes us feel safe about eating fast food and lets us know that this is an experience for the whole family to enjoy.

Brands are more about the ideas surrounding the company than the actual hard data on what the company does or doesn’t do. In other words, you can think of a brand as the way a company is perceived. Or, even more pointedly, the way that its followers relate to a company’s products, culture, or customer experience.

Brands can be based around core values that your company embodies. Rather than relying on loose ideas or concepts to tell the brand story, your company can communicate its values through the brand.

For instance, Disney is known as a company that creates fun experiences for both children and adults. Their brand is based on core values that relate to family, fun, magic, and entertainment. They know that if they appeal to children that parents will purchase their products for their kids, but they also aim to provide some out-of-the-box fun for the adults as well. This is at the heart of their mission. That’s why characters in costume walk around Disney theme parks in full garb. They sign autographs, lead tours, and even have character breakfasts with guests so that the value of the experience is never lost on anyone. Both children and adults are amazed by their experience.

One of the other most important things that you must remember when thinking about brand is that brands create a culture and a customer experience.
For example, when you walk into an Apple store the culture of the brand is always on display.

What this means is that the sleek and stylish technology is paired nicely with tech-savvy employees. In order to strengthen that culture, Apple doesn’t call their employees “associates” like many retail stores–instead they communicate that experience by calling them “geniuses.”

The term genius further supports the idea that their employees know what they are doing and are there to help. This creates customers who enjoy this interaction and makes the long wait in their stores worth it.

Communicating a brand is as Jeff Bezos put it, about “what people say about you when you’re not in the room.”

What are your customers / audience saying about you?


What is Marketing?

Marketing differs from branding because it takes the brand and makes it known to the general public.

Branding is the difficult work of creating an experience for your customers, a personality, and a style that is all your own. It has to be different enough to separate you from your competitors, and it also has to be seen and heard by your potential customers. While the brand is something that people can identify with and relate to, the marketing works in stride with the brand to make valuable offers known to the public.

You see without marketing, no one would know about what your company does. Marketing spreads awareness for your products and services. It allows people to know what you are doing, why you are doing it, and how they can get involved and take part in it for themselves.

While the brand creates the customer experience, the marketing work communicates that experience and makes it known. It also makes it attractive to customers in a way that positions the company to make a sale.

This is one of the most important distinctions between how marketing and branding function. Branding sets up the culture, and marketing positions it in a way that makes people want to engage with it. Without the marketing, branding would be very ineffective. The hard work of the branding, would go to waste without the marketing team going through the proper channels to promote it.


What’s Design?

Ah, so we’ve finally made it to the final question: what is design?

Well, theoretically design can be a lot of things. But in the context of the types of solutions that we offer, design is all about creating a logo as part of a brand experience that can be marketable and used to drive customer purchasing behavior. In other words, the design of your brand is what makes people want it.

This is important because it adds to the brand experience and makes the marketing more relevant when done effectively.

The design will make customers attracted to a product’s marketing and branding, or it will push them away.

The power of design is that it encourages your customers  to want to know more, because they are intrigued by the logo or the way that something looks.


So how do these three work together?

These terms can seem a little esoteric and interchangeable at first, and that’s because they are all very interrelated.

In fact, without each other they all get a little weaker.

Vice versa, with the added support of the three of them combined, they create a fantastic synergy that your company can leverage to create an empowered brand strategy that reaches thousands of happy customers and clients.

Many small-businesses and entrepreneurs try to get by without doing much custom design work and branding–they know that they need to advertise to keep the lights on, but they aren’t as confident with the other two components. Without great design, unique branding, and persistent marketing your company won’t get the kind of traction it needs. For example, if the branding is good, but the design doesn’t work–the marketing efforts will fail. For this reason, it is important that you work with a company and designers who are marketing and brand savvy strategists who can position your company as strong contenders in your industry and showcase your unique value.

Zippy Logos offers brand strategy work in addition to our premium logo design, to ensure that all of our audience are able to hit the trifecta of good branding, good marketing, and great design!


Interested in learning more about Marketing & Brand Development? We’ve put together a suggested list of books you should read before you try to brand or sell anything. Visit our resource center to see our list of recommended books. You can click on the images to purchase them through amazon or your local bookstore if you prefer.

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