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What is the difference between brand and marketing?


So first, some definitions. Brand is the meaning that you stand for in the mind of your audience, your customer. Marketing is the set of activities of messaging and delivering that meaning. So, brand is the meaning you stand for, and marketing is the activation of that meaning.

Without a brand that you've defined well, you may be kind of a windbag with your marketing. You might be saying something that's not relevant or compelling to your customer or that's self-involved or that sounds like everybody else, but brand without marketing prevents a business from taking flight.

There's a wonderful mom-and-pop coffee shop in my building. They have a very specific meaning. It's a Cuban coffee experience with a playful, kind of devilish vibe. That's their brand, but since they're not trying to expand, they do little marketing. So this is an example of brand without marketing.

And then on the other hand, I think of a business like AT&T. AT&T spends hundreds of millions of media dollars a year to market their offering, and yet I have no idea what AT&T means, what they stand for. That's an example of marketing without brand.

The most value-creating businesses have both: a brand built with thoughtfulness and rigor, and marketing that extends that meaning outward for growth. Think about your business's brand. What is the meaning you stand for? And now, think about your marketing. How do you bring that meaning to life? Do you have brand without marketing? Do you have marketing without a brand?

Nail them both. Get crystal clear on your brand's meaning, and then make sure that your marketing brings that meaning to life every time.

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