12 mins

How Branding and Marketing Work Together for Startup Success

Understand the essential differences between branding and marketing, and learn how to use both effectively to create a powerful and memorable brand.

Startup success with strong branding and marketing

When it comes to the entrepreneurship and startup world, there are a lot of words that are used to describe the process of growing audiences and customers, building platforms or products, gaining more customers, and increasing sales.

  • Branding
  • Marketing
  • Web 3.0
  • Advertising
  • PR
  • Viral
  • Social campaigns
  • and the list goes on and on.

Having said that, the question must be asked, what does each of these terms mean? How do they differ from one another? Is it possible to focus on just a few of these concepts in your company, or does your company need to focus on all of them?

There is a lot of confusion about the differences between branding and marketing that we are seeing.

Throughout this guide, we will explain how branding and marketing work together, how they differ, and how you can use them to grow your business in an efficient and effective way.

What is Branding?

When it comes to developing the brand of your company, logos, company names, and color palettes are certainly expressions of your brand, but they are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of developing your company's identity.

A branding exercise involves creating a visual identity for your business and showcasing it through your content.

"Branding" refers to the umbrella concept that covers all the ways in which you can communicate with your target audience and how you are perceived by them. You can think of a brand as what your business stands for, which includes colors, themes, fonts, tone of voice, value propositions, target personas, branding positions, and other elements that, together, strengthen your long-term brand identity.

Brand strategy is another term you should know. Your brand strategy helps you position your company as a leader in its field to help you achieve your goals. It is absolutely necessary to start with a brand strategy if you wish to create a visual identity that attracts your target market.

It is not uncommon for companies to approach graphic designers with one-off inquiries such as, "Can you design a logo for me?" without realizing that a random logo, combined with a few colours pulled from a Pinterest colour palette, is not a brand.

With the help of a brand strategist, you will be able to identify the exact demographic and psychographics of your target audience, where to find them, what stories they need to hear to connect with your brand, and what colours, shapes, imagery, and logo designs will attract them emotionally. These details can be translated into stunning visuals such as product packaging, stationary and business cards, logos, websites, and brand boards.

Example of Branding: Zero Co

The Zero Co is a rapidly-growing company that makes personal-care and home-cleaning products that do not use single-use plastics and has developed a strong brand that speaks directly to its target demographic.

The Zero Co offers an array of eco-friendly consumer products, ranging from washing liquid subscriptions to natural beauty and cleaning products. The Zero Co logo, product labels, fonts, colour choices, and photography all evoke feelings of togetherness, confidence, cleanliness, and quality.


When customers see this simple designed packaging, they feel a sense of pride and trust. Product names such as "forever bottle" and detailed descriptions indicate that the products are made from plant-based formulas, are safe from grey water and septic tanks, are vegan friendly, and are low tox / toxin free.

The above details position Zero Co as a trustworthy brand among their target customers, many of whom are concerned about the impact of single-use plastic and are willing to pay more to ensure less plastic ends up in landfills and the oceans.

A key component of brand strategy is content, and Zero Co uses its blog to share informative content that connects with “plastic flickers” and reflects its brand attributes.

Based on Zero Co's clear focus on who their target is, what interests they have, and how they want to feel when interacting with their brand, the company focuses on sharing informative and viral content about sustainability, popular culture, eco-technology, wellness, health, and beauty.

What is Marketing?

An active marketing campaign is a way of actively promoting a product or service in order to increase its sales. Shortly put, it is the process of coming up with a product or service, selling it, and providing it to customers.

There is a clear dividing line between branding and marketing, as branding refers to the overall experience of a customer with your business, whereas marketing refers to the activity of actively presenting your brand to your audience and delivering your message to them.

Marketing examples include:

• Emailing your email list

• In-store flyers at Starbucks

• A webinar pitch

• Engaging your target audience on social media

• Producing a promotional video

• Using customer testimonials to enhance your content

Example of Marketing: Zero Co

A quirky and lighthearted brand, which plays a crucial role in Zero Co's public image, is one of the key components of the company's rapid growth, and an essential part of its success. To promote its brand, the company uses a variety of marketing strategies in order to convince future customers to discover the brand, fall in love with its products, and, in the end, make a purchase from the company.

A key part of Zero Co's marketing strategy is not using influencers. One of Zero Co's founders, Matt Smith, serves as an "influencer". Imagining firsthand how the founder felt when he was working through the process of bringing an ambitious idea to life, you can picture the emotions and stories he encountered. In order to raise awareness of their product, they leverage real consumers rather than relying on celebrity endorsements to tell their story.

It is also important to point out that Zero Co creates plenty of its own Instagram content as well. Quotes, inspirational stories, product photography, "crazy plastic use" memes, and fun promotional deals with celebrity birthdays are just some of the types of things the company posts on its Instagram that resonate with its target audience.

So what is the difference between branding and marketing?

As part of the branding process, you create a connection between your business and your customers, attract interest, and build a reputation for your business over the long term.

It is not uncommon for a business to rebrand as a result of a pivot or as a result of the fact that they never really had a solid brand strategy to begin with. A company's brand will only ever be rebranded on very specific occasions in the course of its lifetime.

A company's branding will not change much over time once it has been established.

If you've never purchased any of Zero Co's products, but have seen their branding materials, you're probably familiar with the qualities their brand represents, such as being safe, trustworthy, and nontoxic, even if you've never bought a product.

It is likely that, three months from now, when your sister is looking for an underarm deodorant that is free of Aluminum and palm oil, you will recommend that she consider Zero Co - even if you have never used this company before. As a result of their branding, Zero Co has a reputation and positioning in your mind that is a direct result of their branding.

On the other hand, marketing is what pushes people over the edge from knowing what a company stands for to actually making a purchase once they understand what they have to offer. As far as branding is concerned, it tends to stay consistent, but marketing tends to fluctuate, as it involves experimenting, testing various methods and platforms, launching brand-new product lines, and evaluating metrics in order to determine which promotional activities are working best for the brand.

Suppose your sister is browsing the Zero Co Instagram page and finds everyday people telling a story of how Zero Co products helped their families - that story encourages her to sign up for their promotional offer to buy some body care starter pack - that is an example of marketing in action.

How does marketing relate to branding and how do they relate to each other?

There is no doubt that marketing and branding are integral parts of the success of any business, and both are critical to the success of the company.

If a company has marketing, but doesn't have a branding strategy, everything they share with their audience is random and inconsistent. There might be an online presence for the business, but who is the business targeting exactly with their posts? Are they even selling any products at all? If they are, what type of products are they selling? Is there a reason why the colors and the tone sound different every time I play them? In my opinion, this isn't a good experience for potential customers.

When businesses rely solely on marketing and skip the branding component, their audience usually doesn't understand their message. It's quite common for people to say things like our products are so amazing, but why isn't anyone noticing them? There's a good chance that it's because your company's branding needs to be refined.

The fact remains, however, that even if you have a strong brand, it will still take persistence, perseverance, action, and marketing in order for your brand to reach your target audience - whether that is through advertising, networking events, or publishing blog posts, or any other medium. By demonstrating what your brand can do for your ideal customers, marketing can be used to attract your ideal customers and bring them to your business.

Think of branding (and specifically brand strategy) as being the foundation of your brand, while marketing is what makes your brand tick every single day. There is magic in the air when both elements work together in harmony.

Which comes first, branding or marketing?

There is no doubt that branding comes before marketing. You may succeed at first in executing a marketing plan without a foundational brand strategy, but your efforts will hit a plateau once you exhaust your initial circle of buyers after a period of time.

There are times when businesses do not realize that they need a brand strategy until after they have already been around for a few years before they realize they need one. It is very common for a business to start out without a brand strategy. If your business has been operating without a brand strategy for the first few years of operation, it is never too late to pause, regroup, and develop a brand strategy.

The one step you need to take if you are looking to scale, grow, or expand your business for any reason and you have not yet worked with a professional to develop a brand strategy is likely to make a big difference in your future success.

Would you like to take your business to the next level? We build remarkable brands here at Bettermade, and you can learn more about our unique services here.

Schedule a call with us and discover how the Bettermade team can help you create a brand that your customers will remember.

Photos by Brendan Church on Unsplash


What is the difference between branding and marketing?

Branding is the process of creating a unique identity for a product, service or company that sets it apart from competitors in the minds of consumers. It includes the creation of a name, logo, tagline, and other visual and verbal elements that are used to communicate the company's values and personality.

Marketing, on the other hand, is the process of promoting and selling products or services to customers. It includes various tactics such as advertising, public relations, sales promotions, and social media marketing. The goal of marketing is to create demand for a product or service and generate sales.

How can branding and marketing work together to create a successful startup?

Branding and marketing are both essential components of a successful startup strategy. Branding helps to establish a unique identity for the company, while marketing helps to promote that identity and generate sales. By working together, branding and marketing can help a startup to differentiate itself from competitors, build brand awareness, and create a strong reputation in the marketplace.

For example, a startup might develop a distinctive brand identity that communicates its values and personality to potential customers. It might then use marketing tactics such as social media advertising and content marketing to promote that identity and generate leads. By aligning branding and marketing efforts, the startup can create a consistent and compelling message that resonates with its target audience.

What are some examples of successful startups that have effectively used branding and marketing together to achieve their goals?

One example of a startup that has effectively used branding and marketing together is Airbnb. The company has developed a strong brand identity that focuses on the idea of "belonging" and creating a sense of community among travelers. It has used marketing tactics such as influencer marketing and experiential marketing to promote that identity and generate bookings.

Another example is Dollar Shave Club, which has developed a distinctive brand voice that is irreverent and humorous. The company has used marketing tactics such as viral videos and social media advertising to promote that voice and generate sales. By aligning its branding and marketing efforts, Dollar Shave Club has become a successful challenger to established razor brands.

Cassandra Lam
Cassandra Lam
Creative Writer
Take your company to the next round.

Founders, CMOs, and business leaders have put their trust in us to help them create better and memorable brands.

Let's talk
Start the Conversation
Free 30 min call, no obligation