Which Comes First, Branding or Marketing?

Liz Pabon

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Let’s see, which came first the chicken or the egg? While the jury is still out on that old story, I recently realized that many entrepreneurs don’t clearly understand the difference between branding and marketing.

I’m here to set the record straight once and for all! The findings might surprise you and will forever change the way you look at your business.


How is that you choose one product over another? You do so by considering price, availability, evaluating the high touch elements of a company like customer service, respect you have for that company, and then of course product quality.

A brand therefore is the combination of aesthetic and emotions that gives a consumer (or business buyer) a reason to choose one product over another. It communicates a unique quality or a value promise that sets a business apart from their competition.

Branding isn’t just for large corporations either. Entrepreneurs, coaches, consultants, virtual assistants, small businesses in general are now packaging themselves as products with press kits, tag lines, websites, blogs, and portfolios allowing their clients to EXPERIENCE their personal brands.

A common misconception is that branding is just a clever phrase for PR spin and that’s just not the case! Great personal branding is AUTHENTIC and allows you to be your true self. It’s not about creating a special persona that you “show off” in front of your clients. Instead, it’s about understanding what is truly unique about you: strengths, skills, values and passions – and communicating those attributes consistently to differentiate yourself and guide your business decisions.

Personal branding is all about differentiation and is what makes you outstanding so you stand out from the countless offers your target audience is bombarded with.


The American Marketing Association redefined Marketing based on shifts occurring in the business of marketing. They now define marketing as: An organizational function and a set of processes for creating, communicating and delivering value to customers and for managing customer relationships in ways that benefit the organization and its stakeholders.

If we were to re-word that definition (slightly) for the solo pro it could look something like this: A set of systems for creating, communicating and delivering value to clients and customers for the purpose of creating winning customer relationships in ways that benefit you, your business and market.

What value are you delivering? In what way are you, and your business delivering that value? Those are just some of the questions that are addressed in the brand development process. You see if you go to “market” without a clear brand value position you’ve got to ask yourself “what am I marketing?”

In the world of personal branding, you are always marketing and promoting YOU first. We don’t choose to work with institutions or businesses. No, no. We choose to do business with people first. In your business, your best most valued product is you. If you aren’t clear on what you bring to the table in your field of interest and to your target market your promotion and marketing messages aren’t positioning you favorably.

Beautiful ads, brochures, elevator speeches, web sites, and other promotional items (marketing) are all a part of your system for communicating your value to your customers and clients. There’s a reason why so many solo professionals and small business entrepreneurs spend boatloads of money on ineffective marketing. They haven’t clearly defined their brand and therefore communicate a diluted, ineffective message in their marketing.

Unlike the chicken and egg mystery, the branding versus marketing question isn’t a mystery at all. Branding and marketing work best when implemented as a comprehensive part of your communication system. Whether you’re in a company of one or many, branding and marketing work together to position you favorably and attract the right clients and opportunities to you.

© 2006 – Liz Pabon. All rights reserved.

About the author: Liz Pabon, “The Branding Maven, ” is inspiring, motivating and empowering - but most importantly, she’s effective. A speaker and author on the topic of personal branding, Liz delivers insights and principles that are proven to achieve WILD SUCCESS. Liz publishes the weekly Keys 2 Wild Success! ezine. If you're ready to ATTRACT amazing clients, set yourself APART from the pack, make a lot more MONEY, and have a lot more FUN in your small business, get Liz’s FREE WEEKLY TIPS by going NOW to http://www.thebrandingmaven.com !


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