Our company matches advertisers with qualified marketing firms, so we constantly field requests for branding firms, branding services, or just for branding. Conversely, it seems every agency today declares themselves to be a branding or digital agency. So just like media alternatives have grown to a complex set of options, so have the meanings of branding and marketing. Here are some versions that may help simplify things.
Start with Branding. The one I like says it’s the essence of a product or service. “The intrinsic nature or indispensable quality of something, especially something abstract, that determines its character.” Or “a property or group of properties of something without which it would not exist or be what it is.” Accordingly, the toolkit of adaptations agencies claim they can bring to bear on branding generally seem reasonable, but they generally serve as participles to the noun branding. Does it seem reasonable then that the essence of anything could serve to promote itself? Any more than a race horse could win a race without running?
That’s where marketing comes in. Marketing runs the race. Some say “Marketing is the process of bringing goods or services to market.” How’s that for simple! Marketing then as an all-encompassing concept is far-reaching. It could include research, advertising, public relations, direct marketing, social media, experiential and more. Curious then how digital fits in that set. Yet most agencies today are want to declare themselves as a digital agency. To add to the confusion, it seems everyone pontificates about branding and marketing. Since those conversations will undoubtedly continue, in the meantime I hope this helps.