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Branding, Marketing & Advertising: What’s The Difference?

If you’re just starting to set up your own business then you will no doubt have heard of marketing, branding, and advertising as the keystones to making any business a success.

The fact that 8 out of 10 businesses fail within the first 18 months is often put down to a lack of meaningful dialogue with the client base. Both client and business fail to understand what each other wants.

It is easy to think that the three concepts of marketing, branding, and advertising are the same thing but in fact, they are very different concepts. When they work in-tandem they can help ensure the business is understood by the target customer.

So let’s examine marketing vs advertising vs branding.

Branding: The Core of Your Business

Branding is all about visuals. It tells potential customers what your business is about, how it should make them feel and whether your services are right for them, all without uttering a single word.

It’s more than a logo but an idea that should influence all the visual and written materials the company puts out.

Key Questions To Ask

The way to ensuring your brand is on point is to answers some key questions about what your business is and the values it stands for.

Here are some questions to think about:

  • What are the main goals you want your business to achieve?
  • What are its main moral values?
  • Who is your target customer?
  • What values does your target customer believe in and do they align with your business?
  • What makes your business different from others in the marketplace?
  • What do you want people to think about when they remember your business?
  • How should people feel when they think of your business?

Trying to appeal to everyone, of course, isn’t going to cut it. These questions are designed to help you narrow down who your target customer is. Audience knowledge is well recognized as being the key to successful branding and a successful business.

Let’s examine some brands that are successful and figure out why that might be.


The tick logo of Nike is slanted diagonally as if the logo itself is on the run. The logo represents the whole feel of the brand: that Nike is a company for fast people, always on-the-go. Nike is linked to spontaneity and impulsiveness.

People who see the Nike logo are going to think not just about running really fast but they are going to be people who want things done now. They’re not interested in waiting, they want the best, latest designer shoes right now.

And this ties into their motto ‘just do it!’ Don’t even think about it, just go for it. Their earliest adverts also reflected this. An advert from the 1990s showed a simple pair of Nike trainers alongside a simple slogan saying ‘The ultimate quick fix’. Here are some top tips on designing a logo with a slogan.

A good brand is one which sells you the idea of the product, the lifestyle that the product can bring not just the product itself.

Advertising: Selling Your Brand

So what is advertising? If a brand is an idea that a business has created around the product itself then advertising is all about how you sell that brand, effectively.

Adverts can take many forms. From giant billboards and TV advertising to e-mails and even a few lines of text in the ads section of a local newspaper.

There is also a new form of advertising called advertorials. This is where an article is placed into a major newspaper or magazine and made to sound newsworthy. It is written with the intention of selling you a product rather than being an objective piece of journalism.


Whilst Nike tries to sell its customers the idea of leading a fast and impulsive lifestyle and how that links to buying their sneakers, Coca-Cola tries to sell its customers the idea of community and Christmas.

Through a clever brand of red and white, the Coca-Cola Company has tried to associate its flagship product with Christmas itself, imitating the colors of Father Christmas.

For its adverts in the 1970s and 80s, Coca-Cola’s adverts featured songs which had lyrics such as ‘I’d Like To Buy the World a Coke’ and ‘Have a Coke and Smile.’ More recent adverts feature Father Christmas befriending a little girl on a snowy Christmas Day and offering her a glass of Coke.

These adverts explicitly link the brand to the product. They also show how important storytelling is to modern advertising as stories are the way humans make sense of the world.

Not Marketing Vs Advertising But Marketing and Advertising

What is marketing? Marketing is simply about how you advertise. What methods and what tools are you using to market your product? And how do these different ways of marketing come together to make an overall and coherent strategy?

Here are some different ways to market your products:

  • Content Marketing. This includes not just advertorials in traditional newspapers but blog posts that have been search engine optimized (SEO) to ensure they are easily accessible on Google. This can also include entire print materials such as in-flight magazines which advertise the destinations that airlines fly to.
  • Social Media. Most of the world is on Facebook and Instagram and there are a host of other platforms where your ideal customer might be lurking such as Snapchat, Pinterest or Twitter. Deciding where to best place your resources and how to engage with users on these sites depends on your customer.
  • Vouchers and Competitions. Everybody loves entering a competition or getting a voucher for a good deal. By linking up with a supermarket or chain you can hand out vouchers to shoppers at the checkouts in the hope they might be persuaded to visit your store at a discounted price. Or you could advertise a special offer or competition in a newspaper or website.

A Good Salesman

If you’re thinking about whether you need to employ marketing vs advertising vs branding, in fact, you need to think about all three together. A good salesman knows his or her target customer inside out and what they need.

The branding, marketing, and advertising will all flow naturally from understanding their needs because you will understand where your customer lives, shops and eats.

But central to a good campaign is a good logo that reflects all of these things. We can help you with this so be sure to click here to get started on designing the perfect logo for your business.


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