Branding, marketing and advertising are all essential facets of any business, large or small.

Most business owners have accepted that creating a strong brand is essential if they want to build a successful business or successful brand. It’s due to your brand that target customers or potential buyers will remember you and decide to do business with you. A strong brand will help you attract new customers and keep existing customers coming back.

But what exactly is the difference between them? Unfortunately, many people get tripped up on the difference between branding, marketing and advertising. To understand the difference, one must first understand what each term means.

I think part of the confusion stems from the concept brand identity.


The two types of brand identity, branding and brand management

I once responded to David Aaker, the godfather of modern brand management, that it would be beneficial if he could differentiate between the two types of brand identity. This was because I learned not to go with what an article title or section heading stated but rather to try and understand what the author meant from the body copy because often, when the title or heading stated brand identity, the author meant brand visual identity only. Aaker later acknowledged this and differentiated between brand vision and brand identity, where brand vision refers to who your brand is, what your brand stands for and what people can expect from your brand (I call this brand strategic identity) and brand identity (which I call brand visual identity = brand elements). Both types of brand identity are necessary because your brand is reflected in everything from your brand promise, customer service and customer experience to the colours used on your business cards (Let me know whether you still use business cards.)

Brand strategic identity is about why? your brand exists (= Simon Sinek’s start with why) and what? your brand stands for (the promise).

Brand visual identity is about your brand color scheme / color palette, logo and other brand elements.

Branding strategy is concerned with strategic identity and visual identity to endow your offerings with the power of your brand identity.

Too often we use the term branding to refer to sticking logos on stuff. I cringe when I get approached to submit a quotation, usually to a government department, for branding 200 umbrellas or the like. If I was to use umbrellas for branding, it would be for an insurance company like Santam Insurance and then I would need to know more about their target audience, their values etc.


First, it’s brand strategic identity (brand strategy), then brand visual identity, then marketing, sales and all of this = brand management: the management of an organisation as a brand and/or an organisation’s offerings as brands to create brand equity through brand recognition and recall etc.


Brand marketing example

The classic Apple “Think Different” campaign is an example of brand marketing strategy. The campaign communicated Apple’s positioning as brand strategy.


Marketing: what is it and why is it important?

Marketing is the process of creating value for a company through understanding and satisfying consumer needs, the creation and distribution of a new product or service etc.

Marketing has many different aspects, such as market research, product development, advertising, and public relations. All of these elements should be integrated to create a successful marketing campaign. Brand may be part of marketing, but then it is the first step.

Marketing efforts are important because it helps companies to reach their target audiences (buyer persona may be used) and sell more products or services. In addition, a well-executed marketing campaign can increase sales, brand awareness, and customer loyalty.

Marketing involves planning and executing the conception, pricing, promotion, advertising and distribution of offerings to facilitate exchanges that satisfy individual and organizational objectives. Marketing campaigns communicate this via digital marketing or a traditional marketing strategy via traditional media.


Advertising: what is it and why is it important?

Advertising is any paid form of non-personal presentation and promotion of ideas, goods, or services by an identified sponsor. Advertising is just one component of marketing, which also includes market research, product development, and distribution as mentioned above.

Advertising is the use of paid promotions to convince people to buy a product or use a service and to become loyal customers. It is usually persuasive in nature and is often one of several marketing tools used to promote a product or service. Advertising informs the public about products and services available in the marketplace. It can also persuade people to buy those products and services. Additionally, advertising can be used to build brand awareness and create an emotional connection with potential customers. This is why I differentiate between product and service advertising and brand advertising.

It is important to understand the difference between branding, marketing, and advertising. While they are all important facets of business, they each have different goals. Branding is about creating a strategic identity and developing a relationship with the customer. Marketing is about generating interest and satisfying needs/ solving problems. Advertising is about communicating the value of the product or service. By understanding the difference between these three concepts, businesses can more effectively allocate resources and create a more holistic approach to growth. Keep this in mind when developing your brand campaign or ad campaigns.

With an advertising campaign, specific products will be advertised, and this will have a more direct and immediate impact on the bottom line than brand marketing.

As you can see, brand and marketing terms and concepts are assigned different meanings by different people. Clarify the brand language for yourself so that you have a mental framework to navigate proper brand management within your context. We need a common understand of brand so that we can communicate effectively.