Marketing, Advertising & Branding: Which is Which?


Marketing, advertising and branding are all ways businesses use to convince consumers, clients, donors or stakeholders to purchase their goods or services or invest in their business. Due to their close connection and purpose, people usually use these terminologies interchangeably which is not quite right. Knowing the differences among these concepts - marketing, advertising and branding - will help you and your business plan and execute each one the best way, instead of mistaking one of another. It will help your business grow in reputation and keep potential and current buyers aware and happy.


Marketing is a process that refers to communicating the value of a product or service to consumers in order to sell that product or service.

Marketing is a tactical organisational effort and a set of processes for creating, delivering and communication value to costumers, and also managing the relationship with customers (CRM). Also, marketing is the science behind studying and choosing the target market through analysis, as well as understanding consumer behaviour.

Also, business activities a company executes to bring together the buyers and sellers for the exchange of the product or service are considered as marketing activities. These activities are ranging from preparing strategic marketing plans to use of tools and resources such as social media, print media, TV and packaging.

Marketing links the society's material requirements and its economic pattern of response to build long term relationships between the providers and consumers.


Advertising is any type of paid announcement by an individual or firm to the public in order to persuade a potential or existing group of audience to take or continue to take an action. This can be done through different media such as TV, radio, social media, newspaper, etc.

The purpose is to put the word out about a product or service through the relative media channel. Advertising has two main components: a message to send toward the target audience, and a medium to send that message.

According to Clow and Baack, advertising will help the buyer to move through these six steps starting with awareness and ending with the purchase of the product or service.

1. Awareness 2. Knowledge 3. Liking 4. Preference 5. Conviction 6. Purchase


According to American Marketing Association (AMA), a brand is anything such as "name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies a seller's good or service as distinct from those of other sellers."

Branding involves a set of things, actions, experiences a company provides for its current or potential customers. This can consist of typefaces, logos, tagline, colour set, etc. This will create an association between the potential customers' ideals and the specific product or service a brand offers.

What's with All the Confusion?

Marketing, advertising and branding has always been a bit confusing when it comes to adoption of one to use. This is because their concepts are inter-connected and they have close strategic goals, as different as they are.

Also, marketing is a wider process and each of advertising and branding is considered to be a single component of the marketing process.

Furthermore, each of these concepts can contribute to the others in order to increase sales and enhance the company's reputation. For instance, advertising can raise brand awareness, while the level of brand loyalty can justify the marketing and advertising costs.

Have something to add? Let's discuss it in the comments :)


Image credit: SumAll