It’s no secret that the world of technology has firmed up the need for businesses to hit the ground running in branding, marketing, and advertising. Though it may seem minor, knowing the differences between these three categories is paramount to the success of said businesses. It might seem like second nature in a lot of respects; brand yourself with a message, market that message with branded visuals and language, then advertise your product with a strategy that fits the mold of the previous two. Businesses used to thrive on advertising alone, getting the word out about their product locally, and calling it a day. 

The particularly ambitious businesses might have taken out an ad in the local paper, or even hired an advertising agency to draw up some print material to send off in the mail. Now, the canvas has transformed completely, and the simplicity of the “door-to-door” advertising doesn’t work the same way it used to. In fact, print material (unless it’s requested) is viewed largely as a nuisance, and the business who partakes in this type of advertising is seen as irrelevant, or worse yet – desperate. 

All of these maladies can be avoided when one knows how to put together the trifecta of branding, marketing and advertising in perfect harmony. To break it down simply, let’s define each of these components one by one, and detail in layman terms what specifically sets them apart.

Branding

Branding at its core is the message you want to convey to the public about your product. You can bring forth this message through the overall design that your product consists of, for instance font, color palette, tone, language and vernacular. If you’re starting a car company, you need to brand your product to connect with your desired users. Some car companies are synonymous with luxury, while others are synonymous with national pride. Both carry various lines of different car models, but the overall brand for each company attracts attention through their particularities in tone, language and image.

Other good examples of the power of branding live in the fast food industry. Some fast food restaurants douse their image in family values at an affordable price. On the flipside, you have others that focus on single-home demographics, where the consumer can enjoy an affordable meal in good conscience as a single buyer. Both of these restaurants are selling virtually the same product, but have immersed themselves in their brand so deeply that consumers will have a seemingly different experience depending on which restaurant they visit. 

The bottom line is that branding is to product as personality is to individual. The brand is the message, and we are the product. The brand defines its desired customers and the product supports the brand, therefore reaffirming their customers’ choice to consume that particular product. In this climate, the way you define your brand will go farther than any catalog can travel through the mail. Branding has gotten so serious, that consumers have begun to brand themselves through social media. Truly knowing your desired customer is the only path to winning their hearts. 

Marketing

Now that you’ve defined your brand, it’s time to start positioning yourself to make visible the product(s) you’re selling. Unlike advertising, marketing is the strategy of placing your brand in front of your desired audience without trying to push an agenda. The most obvious example is sponsorship. When was the last time you went to a music festival that wasn’t littered with a particular company’s logo as far as the eye could see? When’s the last time you watched a big budget movie that didn’t have a product placed in plain view at some point during the film? These are all examples of marketing: placing your brand in the line of sight of potential customers. 

However, it’s not as easy as just putting your sign on the side of a highway. That is advertising. Marketing is more strategic, and it takes a savvy marketer to decide when and where the brand is going to be visible. For instance, you wouldn’t see a major soft drink lining their paraphernalia in the windows of a car dealership, just as you wouldn’t see a beer company display theirs at a children’s science museum. Marketing inappropriately not only wastes your company’s time and money, but has the potential to have an enormous negative impact on your brand. Marketing is the art of positioning your brand in good company, where you’re welcome, and almost expected.

Advertising

Now that you’ve branded your product, and positioned your product appropriately through the use of marketing, it’s time to venture out and find new, potential customers. This is advertising. Advertising is by far one of the most effective ways to acquire consumership and gain customer loyalty, while at the same time it can be one of the most costly endeavors for a company. One ad during the Super Bowl can cost a company up to $5M for the ad space alone. But the revenue generated can increase sales which amount to the ad cost by ten-fold. When done right, the marriage between marketing and advertising can grow your company’s family of consumers tremendously. However, if these two components contradict themselves or pose discrepancies in any way, your company could be looking at a messy, expensive divorce from the public body.

When you’re approaching the time when you need to start advertising your brand, you’ve already come a long way in your journey. Strategizing an ad campaign can be consuming, and at no point of the process should details be overlooked. A perfect ad campaign is placed, stationed, and executed seamlessly in the eyes of the consumer. Your targets aren’t looking to be impressed by anything other than honesty, transparency and humility in your methods. When all is said and done, a 10 second ad that’s non-abrasive and honest can take your company to a whole new level as opposed to a 30 second ad that’s contrived, derivative and kitsch. 

Conclusion

Allowing the branding, marketing and advertising of a product to work together in harmony is an art, and should be approached as such. Just as painters can portray beautiful sceneries with only a few colors, or a musician can tap into their audience’s deepest emotions with simple truths accompanied by minimalistic melodies, branding, marketing and advertising can have the same effect on a product’s consumers when all three are in perfect balance. When you’re confident in your product, you can illuminate that confidence through your branding, gaining trust with your audience. Once you’ve gained that trust, you’ll find where you can position your product where it will be welcomed. When you’ve been embraced by your consumers, your honesty will continue to grow when you’re advertising, allowing your new audiences to join in the embrace which leads to fulfilling developments spanning your journey.