People tend to use the terms branding and advertising interchangeably. However, they do not mean the same thing and are actually quite different. These two concepts have become increasingly prominent over time and can be seen to be key pillars in various marketing strategies.

What is branding?

Branding is a marketing strategy which gives meaning to a specific company, product or service. It influences a consumers’ mind and helps them identify a particular firm, product or brand. A brand could be anything from a name to a slogan, or even a logo. For example, Nike is identifiable by its iconic logo, the ‘correct’ symbol, or by its slogan, “Just Do It”.

Branding comprises of several key aspects, such as:

  • Targetability: Branding should be planned according to a target audience. Targeting a large group as whole, instead of a more specific group, should be discouraged as it considerably reduces the impact of branding.
  • Loyalty: By maintaining loyalty with consumers, firms can rely on consistent and committed purchases. Firms can build brand loyalty by offering quality and consistent products to consumers, communicating with them on a regular basis and implementing any received feedback.
  • Awareness: Brand awareness refers when consumers are aware of the existence of a particular brand. Advertising through various channels and designing an attractive logo can be used to increase awareness, as well as small business branding. 

Why do businesses require branding?

  • Builds consumer loyalty: When consumers have lots of product categories to choose from, they will tend to opt for products that belong more well-known brands.
  • Helps in expansion purposes: Firms with well-known brands have the advantage of leveraging it when they are expanding or entering a new market.
  • Builds an entry barrier against new entrants: Any market that is controlled by prominent brands can act as an entry barrier against competitors wanting to enter that market.
  • Adds value: This is one of the most important reasons for branding. Consumers will be more willing to pay a premium price for an established brand compared to an unheard-of brand.
  • Helps in attracting new distributors: If a more prominent firm is entering a new market, it will be easier to attract distributors for its products and services since it is an established brand with customer loyalty. 

What is advertising?

Advertising is a marketing strategy that involves paid communication for the promotion of a product, cause or service. The actual promotional communications are known as advertisements. The uses of advertisement include direct sales, lead generation, brand preference and building of reputation.

Advertising has several features, including:

  • Provides information about the products and services to consumers;
  • The communication is non-personal because it is meant for the overall public;
  • Creates a demand for products and services;
  • Establishes a relationship with consumers;
  • It is always issued by an identifiable sponsor. 

Advertising can be explained through the 5 M’s of advertising:

  • Mission: This is similar to the mission statement of an organisation. The advertising objective is set at this stage;
  • Money: Once the objective has been decided, the advertising budget has to be set;
  • Message: This includes the content that you wish to communicate to the consumers;
  • Media: The advertising channel is chosen at this stage. It depends on the advertising budget, the content involved and the target audience;
  • Measure: The effectiveness of the advertisements is gauged at this stage and depending on the result, the advertisement is either continued, modified or terminated. 

What are the types of advertising?

  • Print advertising: This form of advertising is done through journals, newspapers and magazines, and is an important source of income for the print media. Advertising through print media is beneficial as it has a large circulation. On the other hand, since these advertisements are in print form, they are less effective as compared to video advertisements. This is a suitable method for business adverts.
  • Outdoor advertising: This form of advertising communicates with consumers when they are out of their homes and is therefore also known as out-of-home (OOH) advertising. Outdoor advertising is carried out with the assistance of electrical billboards, posters, vehicles and street furniture, for example, bus stops or park benches. This method is highly flexible and does not cost much. However, it has low retention value because consumers do not spend time reading the message.
  • Radio advertising: Advertising through this medium is an excellent way to reach out to your target audience. This method is especially suitable for those people who do not read newspapers and magazines. However, this form of advertising also has a low retention value because detailed communication cannot be transmitted over the radio.
  • Video advertising: Consumers find this form of advertising attractive as it combines written, audio and visual communication. The advertisements are displayed on televisions and on the Internet, but the drawback is that it is an expensive advertising method.
  • Direct mail advertising: This is the best method of advertising if you wish to target a specific group of people. Advertisers maintain a list containing the email addresses of the target audience when advertising through direct mail. This advertising method is flexible but it has limited coverage.
  • Social media advertising: You can also advertise on social media sites today using the likes of Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook and Pinterest. This form of advertising is not very expensive and it can be focused towards your target audience. There are two types of social media ads - paid and organic. Organic advertising is similar to word of mouth advertising. 

Branding vs Advertising 





The focus of this concept is to create a brand.

The focus of this concept is to create awareness for a product or service.


It builds consumer brand loyalty.

It builds consumers’ trust for a particular product or service.

Time period

It is a long-term process.

It is a short-term process.


Branding is carried out with the help of logos, slogans and firm names.

Advertising can be carried out through multiple channels like print, radio, video and social media.

 If you want to learn more about branding and advertising, London College of Contemporary Arts (LCCA) offers a CPD in Branding and a CPD in Visual Communication

For more on this topic, this blog explains the elements of branding and advertising: How is Visual Communication Different from Graphic Design. 

This article has been written by Varun Mehta and edited by Amelia Hayward-Cole.