5 min read

Branding vs. marketing: What’s the difference?
How do marketing and branding both play an essential role in your teaching business's success? Find out here.

While branding and marketing can both boost your business toward higher sales and more enrollments, the savvy educator entrepreneur knows that branding and marketing are not quite the same thing.

If the difference between the two seems fuzzy, don’t worry. This is stuff most educators on Outschool have to learn as they go along, and we’re here to help with examples specific to the Outschool market. Let’s dive into:

  • How branding and marketing are different, plus which one should come first
  • How brands and marketing campaigns work together to achieve results
  • Resources on branding and marketing for educator entrepreneurs

Also, if business-building makes you break out in a cold sweat thinking, “I’m a teacher, not a CEO!” — you’re not alone, and you can do this. We’ve found the secret to overcoming that hurdle lies in shifting your mindset to one that empowers you to build a teaching business based on doing what you love. But don’t take our word for it; read Teacher Jade’s story to learn more about the importance of having a business mindset.

How are branding and marketing different?

In one sentence: Branding defines who you are and what you do, and marketing tells people who you are and what you do.

Your brand is your business’s identity, mission, and unique position in your market. Even simpler: It’s what comes to mind when people think of your teaching business. Are you serious and professional offering academic-focused tutoring courses? Are you silly and fun leading social clubs for preschoolers? Do you always wear a shirt with a tiger on it or open class with a special song? Those elements plus these 5 steps to building a brand all help create your brand identity.

On the other hand, marketing incorporates all the ways you tell your audience about your classes and your brand. Your profile video and class videos? Marketing. Class descriptions? Marketing. Social media posts, paid ads, or a business website? Marketing. Starting to see a pattern? Almost every interaction your business has with current or prospective learners and their families is marketing.

A well-defined brand helps you build long-term relationships with families and learners, while marketing campaigns mostly focus on short-term wins (like a bump in enrollments for a specific class). The two work together to keep your classes full and attract new and returning learners to your Outschool business.

Which comes first, branding or marketing?

If you guessed branding — you got it. You need to know who you are, what your mission is, and what audience you’re trying to reach before you even think about designing a marketing campaign.

Famed TED Talk presenter Simon Sinek simplifies branding to “Starting With Why” and his concept of The Golden Circle for organization and business leaders.

Image credit: Simon Sinek, “Share the Golden Circle”

Knowing your “why” and defining a brand identity will help guide your marketing efforts and create the consistency key to becoming memorable with Outschool families (of course, your amazing teaching skills make you memorable, too).

To design a brand for your teaching business, check out our 5-step brand guide for educators on Outschool.

What ties branding and marketing together?

Both branding and marketing rely on a deep understanding of your target audience to help your business grow. As you create your brand’s identity and mission, you need to clearly define who you want to enroll in your classes. By knowing specifically who you’ll be speaking to with your future marketing campaigns (and, of course, in classes), you set yourself up to create branded images, videos, ads, posts, and more that resonate with the learners you’d like to teach (and their parents).

Find out more about how to define your target audience within the Outschool market with this article and downloadable template.

How do I market my brand and classes?

Once you’ve got your brand in hand and understand your target audience, you’ll probably want to start with a bit of market research to hone in on class times, topics, and formats popular with your learners. Then it’s time to choose your marketing channels and start testing options to see what works!

As you market your classes, remember to include your brand’s look and tone in all your promotions. You can even take advantage of families’ awareness of the Outschool brand by using the Outschool logo alongside your own logo or name.

Educators on Outschool may choose to promote their classes both on the platform and using off-platform channels like social media. Ways to market your classes on the platform include:

If you’re itching to expand your reach beyond the Outschool platform, take a look at:

Don’t forget you can always bounce ideas off your fellow educators in the Educator Hub on Facebook or join a Business Coaching cohort (find upcoming cohorts on the Events Calendar) to level up your marketing skills.

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