It's quite simple. Marketing is a push, branding is a pull.
Marketing puts new products out into the world and helps people solve new problems. It gets the word out. It tells how this product will change a user's life. Marketing is the act of putting new things out there.
Branding makes people care about what is being marketed. It is the heart and soul, the personality that makes a marketing effort more likable than the next. Branding makes things that are marketed attractive.
If you don't do a good job marketing, no one will know.
If you don't do a good job branding, no one will give a shit. You need both and they must feed off one another. They are two sides to the same coin.
The startup world is cut throat. It seems like there is always some kind of monstrous competitor lurking around the corner ready to devour your company. At least, this is what a scarcity mindset would reinforce.
The sad thing is that even if that monster is beaten there is another one ready to take its place. Concerns about competitors are like a hydra. Cut off one head and two more take its place.
What are we to do?
Walk past them. Don't engage. Your brand has one enemy and that is who it was yesterday. The bliss embedded within such a mindset is that whether you win or lose, it's all up to you.
Creative, entrepreneurial people have an innate desire to explore. After adopting a fearless attitude, it becomes easy for them to seek out newness and experiment with confidence. But, there is a shadow side to these seemingly harmless cravings of novelty: absent-minded innovation.
In part, it seems like this need to find something new or start several projects without finishing them stems from a need to grow. Be it more market share, more customers, more offerings, whatever. The point is that rebellious brands cannot afford to be all things to all people. Instead, they seek to focus.
I want you to think about taking a picture of somebody. You point your camera at them and they are blurry. The image sucks and your intention of capturing the moment is lost. Now focus on the subject. Clarity, definition, context, all of these things become evident in light of focus. You get the full picture.
Now try focusing on two people at different depths and distances. It gets much harder.
What's the point? In a world that cannot seem to satisfy its desire to be all things to all people, rebellious brands fearlessly focus. They are ok with gaining the full picture of one subject instead of trying to capture many.