Branding vs. Marketing vs. Sales

If you find worlds of branding, marketing, and sales to be mysterious, overwhelming, or down right complicated, here is a high level break down of the difference between each one to help you figure out where you should spend your time to grow your business.

When it comes to starting or running your own business, it’s important to spend your time and money on what will drive your business forward.

YES, there are a million thing you could be doing. But what are the 3 more important things that will make an impact in your business RIGHT NOW? 

Let’s Break It Down!!

So many of clients come to me because they want to work on their “brand” but when I ask them what that means to them, they aren’t really sure. Because branding is a word we throw around but how many of us REALLY understand what it means? And how is that different than marketing?

So how do branding, marketing, and sales relate to each other? In a healthy business, marketing, branding, and sales are connected and influence the actions of the other.

For example if you are doing paid ads, blogs, and a monthly newsletter but don’t know how that is driving leads into your sales pipeline what is the point?

Think of it this way …

  • First you have to know who you are, who you help, and why they should care (brand).

  • Second you need to know what action you want them to take and how many people you need to take that action (sales).

  • Finally you need to figure out an awesome and interesting way to get people in front of you message and interested in what you are doing (marketing). 


At its core, branding is the process of knowing who you are, who you help, and why should people care about it. 

Branding is really about understanding what your client needs from you and showing how you will help add value to their lives, above and beyond just the product or service you are offering.


Branding is about who you are: your values and beliefs. It is also about how you present yourself to the world: how your clients and potential clients perceive you.


From your logo to your website, a manifesto to an elevator pitch, there are a lot of brand components that help you communicate your value to the world.

While the visual and verbal elements of your brand are crucial to telling your brand’s story, this is often where most companies go wrong, thinking that your brand is about you.  Your brand is actually about your customers: how you help them, how they perceive you, and why you make their lives better.

You can say whatever you want about your brand on social media or your website, but at the end of the day the most important part about your brand is what you CUSTOMERS say it is.


Think of marketing as a communication method. At it’s core, marketing is all the tasks, activities, and the messages you create to get your message out there and build awareness and interest with future clients.


Marketing is how you communicate your brand. It’s the process of sharing what you have to offer, making it easy for people to find and interact with you.


Now that you know the secret sauce that makes you awesome, how you make your customer’s lives better? How are you going to get in front of more people to communicate that?

Marketing is where most people want to start because it’s bright and shiny, but effective marketing is always based on a solid brand and sales strategy. (See below for my suggested order of operations when it comes to branding, marketing, and sales!)

Whether it is social media, SEO, or ads, marketing tools are just tools.

You have to know why you are using them and what you want them to do. Hence the value of a good strategy to make sure all your marketing efforts are working together to achieve a specific, measurable goal.

I can’t tell you how many clients I work with who tell me they need … XYZ marketing tool. My response is always the same … “Okay, we can do that. Can you tell me why you need XYZ marketing tool.”

At least 50% of the time they can’t. They read an article that said they needed it, or everyone else is doing that, etc.

Just because you have a newsletter it doesn’t mean people are signing up and just because they sign up doesn’t mean they are turning into clients.

When it comes to creating your own marketing toolbox, make sure you are choosing the right tools for you and your business goals.


With so much focus on brand and marketing, sales strategy can often be a neglected area for entry and small business. Which is ironic because sales is really who runs the show. Without sales what is the point of branding and marketing anyway?

The sales process is simply how you sell the products or services that you offer. While we often think of sales as an end result, it is a crucial part of the entire process.


Sales is the process of turning contacts into customers (aka generating revenue). It is the difference between having a hobby or passion and a business.


Do you know your sales goals? Do you know how many leads your marketing efforts create for your sales pipeline? Do you know how many of your clients buy from you again?

These are all crucial bits of information that will inform your marketing strategy. Maybe your marketing is driving lots of leads to the sales page on your website, but no one is buying from you. That’s a problem.

Or maybe your newsletter generates the majority of your sales leads - seems like something you may want to put a little more effort into.

Do you have a sales email? Does it work? How many of your consults turn into clients?

A good sales process will let you know exactly what you need to do to drive your business’ revenue … and luckily for sales, marketing is waiting in the wings to help support the process!

Real Life Application

To see an example of this, check out my latest case study with VinEthos. We took her brand from being a wine barrel sales rep to a self professed barrel geek who helps wine makers be great at what they do.  

After updating VinEthos’ brand story, we went to work updating her website, creating a user experience that was easy for potential clients with clear calls to action and developed a content strategy.

That meant interesting blogs that actually helped wine makers as well as a monthly newsletter to send useful information, product promo, and keep in touch with current and future clients.

I contacted Erin because I couldn’t afford to waste anymore time on the wrong marketing efforts.

Working together has just fast-tracked me to a point where I’m doing all the RIGHT things.
— Deb, Business Owner

Erin Brennan

Erin Brennan is a Creative Consultant in San Francisco, CA who helps you grow your income + impact by standing out from the competition and connecting with your clients through compelling brand messages and strategic marketing. {Creating Brand Strategy, Brand Management, Business Strategy, and Strategic Marketing Plans, Squarespace Design}