What Differentiates Brand, Branding, and Marketing?

By Annabella Zhuang


Whether it is people in the industry or entrepreneurs, everyone has a certain understanding of the brand, but it seems that the content of the brand is always unclear, and even customers believe that branding is a very virtual concept, maybe just the agency of the market segment is used to attract customers to “do everything”, this is a very interesting point.

In this blog post, I will share the understanding of what a brand means from a manager’s perspective working on behalf of a brand agency. Of course, I also make references to a lot of online/offline resources and opinions and will feature a reference directory at the end for anyone who is interested to read more.

The meaning of branding: starting from the burning of ancient Greece

Many people think that the brand is the LOGO design. In fact, the original meaning of ‘brand’ is the brand. The concept of ‘brand’ originated from the era of ancient Greece and the Roman Empire with merchants there hanging images of the goods sold on the door of the stores to attract the eyes of customers. This is where the origins of brand marketing stemmed from. In the Middle Ages, European craftsmen used unique tokens to mark their goods in case of counterfeiting.

In 1300, the first brand (hallmark) was branded on silverware to verify the purity of precious metals; the western American rancher used a red-hot soldering iron to brand its own herd logo on cattle to claim ownership. In English, the word ‘brand’ also contains the meaning of burn. In today’s society, brands have become the weapon of market competition. Branding has become an indispensable issue for every business in the growth of the enterprise. In the era of a knowledge economy, the brand evolves into a necessary condition for business operation; successful brands can not only be favored by consumers, but also attract customer loyalty and create sustainable business benefits and value.

Therefore, the brand originated from the brand identification mark, known as the brand LOGO that everyone often refers to when discussing about a certain company. However, in addition to the design of the brand logo, the brand needs to conduct competitor research, target audience research, brand positioning, brand story combing, branding, LOGO design and extended design work. In the market, most of the brand companies can be said to be brand image companies, because they only undertake the work of customer brand LOGO design and extension. They lack certain experiences in areas of brand consulting, research, positioning and brand voice. Providing customers with relevant solutions, so users are very confused about the concept of the brand, and the state of the complex is very understandable.


What is Branding?

The concept of Branding is to create a brand that builds and maintains a persona that customers can relate to and grow to like.

During this process, it integrates various industries such as business, brand strategy, brand positioning, design, advertising and public relations. Therefore, the brand is actually a dynamic and gradual process. Although many people will question the brand’s key objectives, the secret to creating a successful brand involves every step of the process.

Of course, although the branding companies on the market are diverse, they can also be subdivided into the following categories:


1. Brand Image and Visual Creation Agency

This category is the most time consuming and it largely provides enterprises with brand design and brand packaging services. They mainly help provide vision and design to provide customers with the specific implementation of the brand image. They have their own designers and visual teams that provide customers with a range of solutions from concept to implementation.


2. Brand Consulting Agency

In this category, we mainly focus on brand research and consulting, providing customers with brand transformation, mergers and acquisitions, and listing solutions. We help provide a complete strategic solution for customer brand or commercial upgrades. They have experienced brand consultants and partners, and most of them don’t have an executive team, and after they have determined their work and strategy, they are handed over to a familiar vendor or freelancer who has a role like a project manager and controls the project time. Quality to ensure that the direction of the strategy is met.


3. Creative “Hot shop”  Agency

This type of company is more like a creative hot shop. They dig deep into customer positioning and brand creativity. Most of them are “small and beautiful” yet, they don’t have the huge system and theoretical system like 4A advertising companies. Within a few meetings, the visibility of their industry is determined, so they usually only take some proposal-based projects, and the initial money of the project also needs to meet certain standards.

Of course, many of the current creative hotspots are no longer limited to advertising proposals. They also provide customers with brand strategy cases and even “new marketing organizations” driven by brand strategy.


4. Brand Positing Agency

This category is very similar to the brand consulting class but mainly focuses on the “positioning strategy” and marketing strategy. They combine business consulting concepts with brand positioning and marketing-related content. The theory is mainly from the positioning father Jack Trout. (Jack Trout)’s “Positioning” book.

This type of company integrates multi-faceted resources such as business consulting, brand management, and marketing. The business model is similar to law firms which consist of partners, brand strategy, or brand consultants, and mainly solves the problem of the upper-level business logic of the brand.

For the detailed explanation, I will write an article afterward to discuss how best to find the right brand company.

    branding marketing

What’s differences between branding & marketing

Branding is strategic, while marketing is tactical. (which I took this sentence from https://www.tronviggroup.com/the-difference-between-marketing-and-branding/), Branding is more macroscopic and broader, while marketing is more microscopic, and specific metrics Metrics can be set but, the two sides complement each other as if the double helix structure of DNA is the same.

The two are in harmony and replenish each other and together, they shape the process of brand development. In many companies, there may be no obvious boundaries between these two functions, and even many small companies are cross-cutting. In companies with relatively low-level functions, marketing strategies often have clear data goals and sales for sales teams. The process and results are responsible. The brand department is more responsible for visual identity, brand personality, and story, creating the brand’s superiority over competitors.

In my opinion, we don’t have to struggle with which concept is bigger and more valuable. Instead, thinking more about whether these two functions can help companies create better “leading indicators” such as brand value, product innovation, market influence, and brand sustainability. Rather than entangled in “backward indicators”: for example, some clicks, readings.

To conclude, as a person who has been in the brand, public relations, and marketing industry for many years, I have always been very grateful to choose branding as my career direction. It is precisely because of the diversification of the brand industry and the cross-industry knowledge system that I feel that every day in a highly competitive and knowledge-hungry environment, every case of branding is to help customers solve problems at different levels. Brand consultants must have both macro business knowledge and micro-aesthetic foundation and project execution experience.

Challenges are everywhere, Stay Hungry, Stay foolish.


1.  https://www.tronviggroup.com/the-difference-between-marketing-and-branding/

2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brand

3. https://www.zhihu.com/question/21666852/answer/41286214

4. https://wiki.mbalib.com/zh-tw/领先指标法

5. http://www.trout.com.cn

6. Picture from internet