Branding vs advertising: knowing the differences to better align your strategy

Branding and advertising are the main tools used to promote businesses. They help brands reach and acquire new customers and are also good drivers of sales and profits. For example, showcasing a brand across all platforms can increase revenue by up to 23%.

The two elements are purposely intertwined and they feed off each other, so it’s easy to confuse them. Moreover, each has the ability to make the other more or less effective. Although their main goal is to increase their income, they do it differently. Not knowing the difference between branding and advertising can create a marketing gap, but knowing the difference between the two can strengthen your marketing strategy.

In this article, we’ll discuss the differences between branding and advertising to help you better align your overall business strategy.

What is branding

First, let’s understand…

What is a brand?

A brand refers to a compelling identity that helps businesses create a lasting emotional connection with their customers. It’s a promise of value that delivers a unique customer experience. Research shows that 89% of customers stay loyal to brands that share their values.

Companies need to know that a brand does not belong to a company, but to its customers. So if your customers don’t buy into your brand story, the brand doesn’t really exist.

To build a brand, a company must develop a holistic awareness of its operations, strategy and communications. Everything a business does, including customer service, website design, answering customer calls, handling customer complaints, and more, is part of building its brand.

So, branding deals with the identity of a company and everything it does to build customer loyalty to its products or services.

A brand’s identity determines what customers think of it and is marked by factors such as its logo, colors and slogan. For example, color improves brand recognition by up to 80%. Branding helps companies build relationships with customers and convey a consistent theme to them. This way, customers can know what to expect from a company during interactions.

Branding also has the aspect of self-understanding. Some of the fundamental branding questions for businesses include:

  • Who are we?
  • What kind of people do we serve?
  • How are we different?
  • What problems do we solve for our customers?

A brand also includes the tone it uses in advertising, newsletters, social media posts, treatment of employees, outreach to the company’s community, and any other impressions the company makes to the public. . It is therefore important for a company to establish elements such as the company’s mission, the selling characteristics of its products or services and the clientele to be targeted.

Let’s say you run a business that manufactures beach accessories. Your customers will expect it to look a certain way. Your company can host beach parties, sponsor outdoor water sports events, and allow workers to wear beachwear while on the job. Employees can use everyday language and explain to people the importance of being in nature. It is also important for your business to differentiate itself from other companies that manufacture beach accessories. You can talk about the unique services your business offers to make itself unique. All of these activities are part of branding.

Everything your business does should be reflected in your brand image. What qualities do you want your business to be associated with? Are you charging higher prices because of niche offerings or are they lower because your product is mass market? If you establish a strong, consistent and authentic brand image, you will retain your customers. 86% of consumers say authenticity is a key factor when deciding which brands to love and support.

What is advertising?

The relationship between your business and your customer begins and ends with your brand. For your business to remain profitable, it must make sales. An ideal customer will come back to buy your product or service not just because they want the product or service, but because they want to support your brand. That’s why it’s essential that you know who your ideal customer is.

Advertising is the process of spreading awareness of your business. It is part of building your brand and should reflect your brand values. Advertising is also about communicating products and services to a wider audience. This can be done through social media promotions, online advertising campaigns or local media. The advertisement does not target a specific individual, but the general public. It is a way to convince a large audience to take a particular action like making an online purchase, visiting your store, as sales are of great importance to any business.

An advertisement is a means of soliciting an appointment between your company and your ideal client. There’s a big difference between a customer who knows your brand and a customer who doesn’t. It’s like the difference between asking a friend to go have coffee with you and asking a stranger.

Thus, advertising is a way to get your business name known to the general public. After all, no customer will visit your restaurant if they haven’t heard of you. If you’re celebrating a milestone or have a special offer, now is a great time to let the world know about your business. But it’s the brand image that will keep those customers coming back. It tells customers what they can expect from your business. And if you offer that, you’ll retain your customers for years.

Traditionally, advertising was difficult due to the lack of proper tools to deliver advertisements. However, the invention of digital advertising tools has made it easy for businesses to reach more new and loyal customers. A tool like Latana helps businesses measure and deliver brand awareness for audience and revenue growth. These tools are also useful for segmenting audiences based on their unique characteristics. This helps businesses deliver personalized ads to increase their chances of converting.

The role of trust in branding and advertising

Trust is an important factor in branding and advertising. A study conducted by Oberlo shows that 81% of consumers should trust a brand to buy from it.

Let’s use a scenario to explain the role of trust in branding and advertising. Let’s say you are the brand, your products are cookies, and your friend is the customer.

Scenario A: You call your friend and ask him to come and buy cookies. Your friend is most likely to think you’re only interested in selling, but you (the brand) don’t care about them, their feelings, or their experience. There is great truth in this because you are putting your product and your profit before your relationship with them.

So what is missing in this case?

A brand relationship.

Scenario B: You call your friend and ask him to come get some cookies because you want to have a conversation with him and spend enough time together. This way you cultivate a good relationship between you and your friend. This is a clear indication that you prioritize the relationship between you and your friend, therefore, they will perceive you as trustworthy and genuine (the brand).

So, you should always consider different ways to use your brand beyond colors or logo design to give your customers the experience they are looking for. After determining who your ideal customers are and what they are looking for, you can find new ways to personalize your brand to earn your customers’ trust and provide them with what they want. Your brand will then get loyal customers who will keep coming back.


Branding is what a company believes in and what consumers think of it and its products. It helps businesses promote long-term loyalty and engagement. Customers recognize brands by using their visual elements such as logo, company name, fonts, tagline and color scheme. Such elements identify a brand and create an association in the minds of consumers between their desires and the company’s ideals.

Advertising is all about building brand awareness to acquire new customers and drive sales. This is normally done through paid campaigns tailored to reach a target audience through different media including newspapers, social media platforms, TV, radio, etc.

Branding and advertising work together. Branding determines the direction and style of advertising campaigns, while advertising builds brand awareness.

About Latana: Backed by machine learning technology, Latana Brand Tracking helps brands make better marketing decisions by providing scalable brand management insights.

About Deborah Wilson

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