Sales vs. Marketing vs. Branding – The Definitive Step-By-Step Guide For Business Owners & Entrepreneurs

Written by Danny Matthews

Danny is the Creative Director here at the Studio. Likes drawing on his iPad, cartoons, has an obsession with brand guidelines documents and you can usually find him in a coffee roaster or under a bed of stickers that his son Zac hides him in.

If you are a small business owner or entrepreneur with bills to pay and returns to see, you’re going to want to make sure you are investing your money in the right places.

The worlds of branding, marketing and sales may seem mysterious, complicated and sometimes overwhelming but when you could invest your money in anything, remember these three areas are what will drive your business forward.

So how do you know which one is most important for your business, right now? 

Like most broad subject matters where the answer is “it depends”, we first need to identify what result you want and in what time frame you want it. 

Let’s call the time frames ‘short-term’ and ‘long-term’ for simplicity.

Then we will put Sales, Marketing & Branding in categories defined by impact and effort; how much effort you need to put in, to get the most impact ranging from low to high.

Here it is illustrated, but let’s break each one down.


Simply put, sales is the exchange of value (usually a product or service) for currency.

In the short-term sales can be the life of your business and the decider on whether the lights stay on or not. Done well you can live to see another day but over time the day-to-day grind of sales in order to hit minimums can soon balloon and have a negative effect.

Sales in the short-term takes little effort and the impact can be great – if it’s done well. 

In the long-term sales becomes a task that you aspire to give to someone else, or through great branding and marketing it becomes easier for you to spend your time elsewhere, on tasks to move the business forward while the sales become more predictable.


Marketing is the action (or business) of promoting products or services, including market research and advertising. It often gets confused or crossed over with branding.

Marketing informs the journey that someone makes from becoming aware of you, to buying from you. And because journeys are not short-term, efforts made in marketing for quick financial return usually fail, although they can be useful to gather data.

So marketing in the short-term takes a lot of effort and has little impact. This is why business owners often outsource marketing such as social media, but then wonder why they haven’t seen an immediate return.

Marketing is long-term by nature. It can be used to present solutions at every stage of your buyer’s journey. Taking the time to work on a strategy that aligns with your brand will make the process of hiring someone else to execute the plan easier and more cost-effective.


To define the broader meaning of what branding would need a whole other collection of articles. Even brand specialists find it difficult to give a universal definition. 

One will say it’s the meaning people attach to you and/or your products and services. A dictionary  definitions attaches it to the recognition of symbols related to your company. Others put the focus on reputation.

Sometimes defining the impact is easier than defining what branding is.

In the short-term, having a clearly defined brand will help you come up with a set of communication and behaviour guidelines. This will allow you, or anyone you give the task, to market and sell your products and services with a consistent message and a predictable process and outcome.

It takes a lot of effort to come up with a powerful brand and rightly so, as the impact is infinite when deployed in the right way through sales, marketing and creating a memorable experience.

Your brand is what takes a business and makes it a living organisation.

In the long-term the messages you send, the stories you tell and the way you behave will help your customers become your sales and marketing.

So how do you view sales, marketing and branding now? How up your business agenda are they? Are you ready to explore branding as the basis for successful sales and marketing?  Why not check out where you are, using our Brand Confidence Scorecard.

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