Branding vs Marketing vs Advertising

Branding vs Marketing vs Advertising

Branding – Marketing – Advertising – these three terms are widely used within the industry and with time are evolving at high speed. We often see the terms Branding, Marketing, and Advertising used liberally and interchangeably, not just in business conversations but also in everyday parlance. With the increased awareness and usage of these terms by new-age brands and start-ups, it is now necessary for marketers and advertisers to revisit the core meaning, understand its usage in today’s times and decipher it.

All these three ideologies are strongly interconnected and wired together in providing overall branding to any product, business or individual. Understanding this difference among the three terms enables businesses to leverage the power of all to deliver sustainable business growth.

Branding, Marketing, and Advertising are very different, and would you believe me if I told you that they don't even fall under the same 'department' in any organisation! In simple words, branding or Brand Creating is just about you. What is Your purpose? Here, the word ‘Your’ could highlight multiple things, a company, an image, a vision, an individual or a product. The right way of branding is to tune in the vision and ideologies a company stands for with its long-term goals and approach.

Marketing is understanding the consumer and educating them on how your purpose can benefit the customer. Your market is the end customer and marketing means conducting in-depth research in finding a simple path to reach them.

Advertising is the communication of your marketing strategy. It consists of different paid and unpaid routes, including PR, online ads, TV, Radio and various mediums to connect a chord and build a brand recall with the target audience.

Let's look at each of them in greater detail. We will try and track two brands - Tata Nano & Mama Earth - across their journey to better understand the difference.

"People don't buy 'what' you do. They buy 'why' you do 'what' you do" - Simon Sinek, Start With Why.

Branding, it seldom has too much bearing on the competition out there and is far from evaluating the business potential. Branding creates a specific image in the minds of your consumer and is more of a strategy that lets the consumer identify your brand among other players. If your brand is personal and without a core purpose, there is little chance of building a long-term brand. 

Articulating the purpose of your business gives you clarity and helps your team understand what they are in for. It gives them clarity of the role they play in the larger scheme of things to fulfil the larger purpose. 

Building a brand is department agnostic and every stakeholder must 'Brand' their work. Brand building spends are rarely measurable and that is an important reason many businesses tend to avoid spending money here, to their own peril.

Ratan Tata wants to launch a car that would be as affordable as a motorcycle. It seemed impossible, but the purpose of empowering the lower-middle-class, drove the team to find a way. This purpose became their brand story, which helped in building brand recall over a period of time.

When Varun and Ghazal Alagh couldn't find safe, chemical-free products for their baby, they realized their purpose and started Mama Earth to provide safe, nourishing, natural care for babies. Their purpose behind starting a business becomes their brand story and helps in connecting at an emotional level with new age parents.

If your purpose doesn't resonate with the target audience, it doesn't have a right to win. But, if it does, it doesn't matter how much the competition or even how early the competition has been, you have a very good chance of success. 

Marketing is the systematic plan and strategic approach to articulate your brand story within your target audience and form an emotion. The core purpose of marketing is to attract consumers to your brand through communication and preferably a communication that will convert them into leads. Marketing spends is measurable in business performances over a longer period. And you have guessed it right, this is where your marketing department takes charge.

In their endeavour to deliver to the lower middle-class, Tata forgot what a car meant to them. Nano was positioned as the poor man's car. Cars are still a status symbol. Nobody wants to own a car that makes them look poor. The story did not fit into the customer's belief system.

They were almost twice as expensive as the other baby brands. But that didn't seem to matter because they connected with the customer's belief system: Parents will always mean well for their babies.

Advertising, PR, Blogs, Streaming Channels, Social Media Platforms, Community Forums, Sampling, Demos, all are avenues of marketing. 

Advertising is a larger bucket consisting of various routes in delivering your marketing message to the target audience. Advertising should Never be confused as being an end. It is always a means to get your message across to your customers. Creativity in advertising plays an essential role in delivering your message to the target audience and building a recall factor.

This is where the creative agencies get involved, to get the message across to your target audience. 

Nano was targeted at the masses, and they predominantly chose the mediums of advertising that spoke to the masses, like TV, Print, Radio, etc. The right medium plays an effective role in advertising.

With a D2C approach, Mama Earth simply stuck to digital avenues to sharply focus on their core target audience. They built a community with the content they put out to communicate their marketing narrative.

Thus, to wrap it up, it's not about branding or marketing or advertising being more important than the others, but them working in sync to transform businesses into extraordinary brands. The magic is finding a purpose you identify with, then building a narrative to resonate with the target audience and then amplifying the narrative to reach the target audience.

(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of and we do not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.)

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