Branding, Marketing & Advertising. What’s the Damn Difference?

Advertising has been around as long as there have been newspapers. Branding? Roughly four thousand years, when farmers literally “branded” their cattle to distinguish their product. But marketing… marketing is older than language itself.

For three business concepts that have been around for such a long time, there sure is a lot of confusion over the difference between the three. Even the folks who work in these industries often have a hard time making the distinction.

Don’t let that be you. Knowing the difference is often the chief underlying factor when it comes to getting ROI from all your marketing efforts. Here’s what you need to know.

Branding is the Company’s DNA
Far greater and more important than any marketing strategy, branding is a company’s identity.

It’s the company culture: the way employees interact with customers.
It’s laid out in the company’s vision statement: what the founders want to achieve, how they want to change the world and, in some cases make it a better place.
It’s evidenced in the mission statement, ideas the company leaders have for making a unique splash in the marketplace.
As such, branding comes from within. However, there’s more to it than that.

It’s also the way people perceive your brand. It’s how they feel when they touch your products or see your name, for example. And that’s the scary part about branding: you don’t quite control it.

Marketing, on the other hand, is how you attempt to sway those perceptions…

Marketing is a Message that You Control
This is your company’s strategy for attracting the attention of consumers. Marketing methods evolve over the years and so will the messages you choose to convey because trends change. For example, when was the last time a major brand was using a sexy spokesmodel to spearhead their campaign? “Sex sells” just isn’t cutting edge anymore.

Compare that to branding. It’s rare that a company will overhaul their core principles. Values like impeccable customer service don’t change.

Advertising is Simply a Tool
Finally, there’s advertising, which amounts to little more than a simple tool within the larger branding-marketing ecosystem. It plays a very small role in an overall marketing strategy, which may also include other components such as social media posts, live events, and website content.

So think of it like this. Advertising is merely a cog in the wheel of marketing, which drives the brand story in the right direction. The best companies use this knowledge to drive marketing campaigns that amplify their brand in the best possible way. Now you can be on your way to doing the same.