Brand vs. Branding: Untwisting the Marketing Knot


The distinction between 'Brand' and 'Branding' is often misunderstood by many seasoned marketers. The meaning of this and how it applies in the real world, beyond its academic definition, is something that many small and large businesses still grapple to understand. Having spent close to a couple of decades working in global agencies as well as for marketing-savvy corporations, it becomes an endless debate and often quite contentious when this subject arises. The debate then rolls over to explaining and understanding where the scope of a brand team and business marketing team starts and ends; are their areas of interest unique and non-dependent on each other, or can they operate in a silo, or are there areas of convergence or commonality? 

And this is where Brand persona and archetypes come into play. Not delving deep into this specific subject, which is an ocean in itself. In essence, it is giving a business, which otherwise is considered cold and objectified, some sort of human quality or personality. The moment this happens, it strikes a completely different chord among people. It all of a sudden moves from the realm of logical reasoning to that of emotions, which are from the heart. And many times, the mind and the heart are not necessarily aligned. Most successful businesses, before I call it a brand, have in some way found a way to address that very specific emotion in their customer's heart that leads to repeat purchase, engagement, and eventually brand loyalty. So when you deal with a person, whether it is for the first time or over a period of time, it evokes a certain feeling, something fuzzy and sometimes unpleasant because, in your subconscious, it has in some way connected with your values or what you don’t consider virtuous. 

The brand, when applied in a tangible way which directly influences your senses – Sight, hearing, touch, smell, and taste, becomes branding. So brand goes beyond the tangibles into the intangibles realm, which is where the magic happens. And in many of my interactions with marketers and with few clients, the conversation of brand gets confused for branding, and that too, not even covering all five senses but limiting it to just two out of the five senses - Sight and hearing. 

So having a strong brand impacts the way people look at a business. It has a direct bearing on the business’s bottom line. 

As stated by visionary and, in many ways, a brand guru in his own right, among his ardent fans, Steve Jobs. Brands are like a bank account. They trust you, and every time they buy a product from you, it’s like a deposit made into your account. And every time they have an unpleasant experience, they withdraw until a point there is no relationship whatsoever with the brand.


Let's connect and start a conversation.

We’re here to help. Send in your project enquiry now.

George Ninan

Managing Partner