Do you know the difference between Marketing, Branding & Advertising?

The marketplace today is cluttered with a large number of products and services making their way. It is getting harder each day to stand out in the eyes of the jaded consumer.

This cutthroat competition is fuelling a unanimous rise in marketing budgets across industries.

There is increased competition towards gaining consumer attention.

Growth-oriented businesses are all investing in fat cheques into branding, advertising in their marketing arsenal.  They’re practically doing whatever they can to gain eyeballs of their target niche.

In this real world scenario, there is a strange anomaly that arises. In spite of the significant allocation of time and resources on gaining eyeballs front, the foundational understanding of marketing, branding & advertising remains unclear to businesses and marketers alike.

This confused understanding often leads to a waste of resources, time in terms of achieving a focussed outcome in an optimal manner.

Find below, a detailed explanation of the three terms that are imperative to your success.


Every person in the business battlefield field today has some perception of the word marketing.

Some people feel it is the job of making sales, whereas some people feel it is building a brand. Then there are some who feel it is maintaining public relations. Another group believes that every single task involved in the business can be broken into marketing.

In true essence, marketing is a very broad term involving multiple facets.

However, to decompose it in the most basic level, one of the good definitions is by D. L Yohn:

The process of conceiving, developing, promoting, selling and distributing a product or a service to a sharply defined audience. 

In today’s day and age, marketing is truly not a role that can be delegated to only one department. It makes up the DNA composition of every cell in the organization.

Product development and marketing can no longer be done in isolation or succession.

With almost all basic needs met in the marketplace, every offering needs to be tailored to the specific requirements of a sharply defined audience. Thereafter, it needs to be built, promoted and sold to them in a scientifically structured manner.

Briefly decomposing, after defining a target audience, marketing is to:

  • Have a clear understanding of buyer’s needs
  • Tailor products to cater to the exact needs
  • Position the product and brand in a way that resonates with the target audience
  • Communicate and convince them that the product or service will satisfy their need.

There is one important point here that shouldn’t be missed. If the target group is not well defined, it will not reap any meaningful results.

Successful companies build products keeping an audience in mind and then promote it to them using several mechanisms.

One of the starting steps of promotion includes branding.


Brand building is one common foundation to almost all of the world’s most successful companies.

A brand is what speaks for you when you’re not in the room.

It is an identity you consciously and sometimes unconsciously carve out for yourself.

When branding is done so right,  the brand name becomes synonymous with the product itself.

For example, Cadbury instantly implies chocolates. The word Cadbury has become another name for chocolates.

This is the level that is the aspiration of every brand builder.

In essence, a brand is the summation of all visual, verbal elements that make the entirety of your product or service.

Unlike the company or product, a brand is not tangible. It is a perception that needs to be deliberately created.

It’s the story of your company and product – A story you can never tell properly without putting in conscious thought to create it.

The stepping stone to successful branding is first to figure who you are as an entity and what you stand for.

The next hook is to plan out what exactly you want your customers to feel about you, the perception you desire to create.

Here comes the skill and expertise of your branding team to match your ideas with the identity you desire to carve.

A logo, tagline, name etc. are all examples of branding elements. However, they do not guarantee to build a brand.

The idea is to have a target perspective you desire to create and team it up in every way with elements that holistically produce it.

The dividend you reap from a good brand is an enhanced, more personal customer experience. This, in the long run, pays back in loyalty and justifies the cost associated with fat cheques invested in advertising.


While branding is investing in your identity, advertising, on the other hand, is an outbound investment.

Outbound here implies that the idea is to reach out directly to targetted groups in order to persuade them to buy.

In other words, advertising is the process of persuading your buyers to buy from you.

In majority cases, advertising is paid in nature.

The idea is to leverage existing channels in order to get in touch with the target buyer persona & convey your message.

The choice of the channel depends on who the intended buyers are, what the budget is and in how much time you’re aiming to achieve the goal.

Every successful advertisement is backed by a clearly defined goal, often timebound and measurable.

With digital channels of advertising that are gaining luster today, the results against that goal can be measured with agility.

In traditional channels, the measurement happens with a lag.


The words marketing, branding & advertising are very misunderstood even by those in the field.

A clear understanding is necessary to achieve the effect on the outcome of each.

Marketing is the holistic process that wins a business its customers and helps it keep them.

It starts from conceiving the product to ensuring its repeated sales.

In order to execute marketing successfully, it is important to have a clearly defined target audience and customize the entire offering accordingly.

In order to promote and sell a product, there are several dimensions.

The two most important are branding and advertising.

The intent of branding is to make the target customers feel something about your business with a collection of elements and experiences you offer along with your product or service.

So the primary step to branding should be to figure yourself out and then discuss your vision with brand experts to build on it.

On the other hand, advertising or reaching out to your potential customer is typically communication that is focussed to convince them to buy.

However, as a beginner, it is important to align your marketing goals with your budget.

If you’re a company with limited means, it is a better idea to indulge in direct response marketing as compared to branding.

Written by Kinzal Jalan
Kinzal is a content marketing consultant based in India. She is experienced in successfully strategizing and executing campaigns across industry verticals including Real Estate, Healthcare, Software Services, F&B. In this blog, she shares actionable tips, ideas, and case studies to help you achieve excellence in marketing.