Marketing, Advertising, and Branding – How Are They Different?

Key Takeaways

  • Marketing refers to the act of how a company sells their product or service
  • Advertising refers to the form of actions taken by companies to sell their products or services
  • Branding refers to how the company wishes to be known to consumers

Anyone who has not worked in the world of advertising, marketing, and branding can definitely associate these categories with each other . While they are undoubtedly connected, there are subtle differences between the three.

If you’re a business owner, it’s important that you understand advertising, marketing, and branding so you can effectively use them to build your brand and attract new customers. So read on, clear up the confusion, and get to know the purpose of each category.

Marketing Is How You Present Yourself to Others

Marketing starts right from identifying the need of a market, creating a product or service to meet that need, promoting it, and finally convincing people to buy it. Marketing also refers to the tools you use to deliver your brand’s message. And just like your product or service, it needs to change and evolve.

Marketing reaches out to your target audience while supporting your brand’s core values. It’s vast and wide. You can make your marketing funny and serious. It can be a mix of texts, videos, photos, and keywords. Some common online and offline marketing methods you can use are print media, mobile marketing, social media campaigns, and search engine optimization. Other ways to market your product or service include customer engagement, joining events, and personal rapport.

Look at marketing as how you choose your style and clothing. Everyone has a strategy for this. Through appearance, you express to others your character, attributes, and the value you can provide. Look at your marketing strategy as how you “dress” your company. It will determine how consumers will embrace your message and accept your image.

Advertising Is How You Carry Yourself in Public

If marketing is how you want others to see you, advertising describes your actions. Typically, paid communication through nonpersonal  mediums, advertising is the process of creating awareness and convincing potential and existing customers to buy a product or service. Done via print or digital media, posters, billboards, the internet, TV, or radio, advertising is just one of the channels marketing uses to attract a mass audience.

Keep in mind that your marketing and ad materials should carry the same brand message and logo, so they can create a uniform brand perception with your customers. And remember, what you say is just as important as how you look. Meaning, there should be consistency and interconnection between your image and your actions. If you execute your ads at the wrong time, in the wrong place, and with the wrong message, chances are, you’ll confuse your audience and lose them.

Branding Is How People See You 

While marketing is your effort in creating an image to the public, branding is how they actually see you. A brand is anything that helps keep potential and existing customers to remain loyal to your product or service. It’s the values and attributes that define your company.

In order to determine who you are as a company and as a brand, you need to ask yourself and your teammates a few questions. What is my mission statement? What are my core values? What makes my product or service unique? What do you want to come to mind when someone hears your business? What do you want people to feel when they think of your product or service?

Your branding will cultivate what customers can expect from you, and what they will experience when they use your product or service. By establishing who you are, your branding can be used to precede and underlie your marketing efforts both today and for the future.  

Branding is developing and using a company name, symbol, logos, or design to convey the identity of a company. Your logo must be able to translate  your brand’s message or philosophy. And since the visual elements of a brand such as color, typeface, and image create a huge impact on the minds of customers, it would be wise for you to get the help of a professional graphic designer when developing these elements.  

Branding sits at the core of your marketing strategy. If you’re planning to launch a company, it’s important to clearly define who you are as a brand first before you start developing a marketing strategy. Your brand is what will win your customers’ loyalty. Consider the bars, restaurants, and retailers in your area. Those that have remained in business for years can thank their brand for their staying power. Their brand keeps their customers coming back, generation after generation.

Down to Conversions

Even if your marketing strategy uses the most effective marketing methods today, you’ll have a low conversion rate if your customers are not connected to you as a brand. Branding brings timeless connections. Your current marketing efforts may bring engagement, but it’s the branding that makes your customers keep coming back to you.

Many companies offer the same product or service that you offer. With exceptional branding, you can build loyalty and trust despite fierce competition. Your branding will make you unique. It’s the one that will make your success more substantial.  

Your marketing, advertising, and branding strategies can be carried out on any platform such as digital media. A brand needs to create outstanding and unique campaigns to ensure that they stand out from the competition. 

Take up the Graphic Design and Branding Fundamental program at Q College, and learn to make sound design decisions while considering branding and identity.


The Hartford. (n.d.). Digital Marketing: Branding vs Marketing vs Advertising. The Hartford.

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