This is a common question and not surprisingly so.
In the small business world the boundaries between branding, marketing, design, copywriting – they are completely blurred!
I describe myself as a designer who specialises in branding. My approach is all about helping my client to create and communicate a one-of-a-kind experience. I wouldn’t describe myself as a marketer yet, I know that, marketing is pivotal in delivering that experience through communications.
Stepping back from the mixed reality of day-to-day delivery for a moment and considering this in the purest sense.
Branding is an internal business problem. Marketing is a external business problem.
Branding is how you do it (or who you are). What makes your business special – the thing or combination of things that nobody else has got.
Marketing is about taking the brand to market. Positioning, channel selection, customers to target, messages to make.
Another way to think about it is:
Branding Focus = Identity + Culture
Marketing Focus = Exposure + Selling
You may agree, you may not. The brilliantly insightful Seth Godin has said everything is marketing.
As I said, everything is blurred.
Perhaps a better approach, as the small business founder or marketing manager, is to be clear on your goal. Decide where you want to go and then seek-out a professional who has already taken other businesses on a similar journey. This professional might describe themselves as a designer, brander, marketer, PR officer or something else. The reality is, they are probably a little bit of everything!
Go with the work, not the job title.