What is the Difference Between Marketing, Advertising and Branding?

What is the difference between the Three Stooges? Or the Three Musketeers? What about the Three Little Pigs? Or the Three Bears? Famous trios abound in our stories and pop culture, but people rarely ask what the difference is between each member of the trio. They don’t confuse Mama Bear for Papa Bear, for example. Instead, they recognize that each is a unique character and has their own personality.

There is one famous trio, however, where that question is frequently asked – it’s the modern-day business necessities of marketing, advertising and branding.

What is the difference between marketing, advertising and branding? Perhaps it’s a question that you’ve asked yourself or heard a colleague ask. The three are distinct concepts, but the terms are commonly used interchangeably. To help you remember their differences, we turn to a place that has its own share of unique characters and personalities – the silver screen. Let’s take a look at how the movies can help you remember the difference between marketing, advertising and branding.

Marketing is the movie. It is the story, the characters, the cinematography, the locations, the costuming, the lighting, the soundtrack and more.

As a movie goes from script to screen, producers, directors and others involved in making a film all make decisions that impact how the movie will be perceived by audiences. If you imagine that you and your marketing cohorts are the cinematic decision-makers, it’s easy to see how those casting or location decisions are your marketing strategy.

Your marketing strategy shapes the perception of your business by your audiences too. It should consider your organization’s vision and values, and how you want to be known and seen by others. Of the marketing, advertising and branding trio, marketing is the big picture.

If marketing is the movie, advertising is how you promote it. How do you spread the word about the film? Are you running television commercials? And if so, how long are they and where do they appear? What about ads on social media? Or is a more experiential promotion in the cards for your film?

Ultimately, advertising is all about others receiving your message over and over and over. In the case of this example, that message is essentially, “See this movie!” The end goal of advertising is to persuade an audience.

Among marketing, advertising and branding, advertising is a much smaller picture endeavor. It is a subset of marketing and should be driven by an organization’s marketing strategy.

If marketing is the movie and advertising is how you spread the word about it, branding is how it makes people feel. Does it make them laugh? Cry? Jump in fear? Do they applaud at the end? Does it inspire them? Does it leave them wanting more?

Though it is sometimes misunderstood and too often equated with being a company’s logo or visual design, branding is much more. It is all about emotion. How do people react to your business?

Unlike marketing and advertising, where a business puts a message out to its audiences, branding is the message that the business receives back. It is a value proposition that consumers assign to a business and their products and services. Ultimately, your audiences control your brand.

Do you need help with your marketing, advertising or branding – or all three? Evoke Idea Group can help! We have more than two decades of experience with all kinds of marketing, advertising and branding projects. And not only can we tell you the difference between the members of this trio, we can tell you how to make a difference in your business results with each of them. Find out what we can do for you in a complimentary 30-minute consultation. Schedule yours today by email at hello@evokeideagroup.com or give us a call at 630-879-3846.


About Evoke Idea Group

Evoke Idea Group is a full-service design and marketing creative agency providing award-winning marketing communications and graphic design solutions since 1996. For more than 20 years, we’ve helped mid-to-large sized B2B and B2C companies, marketing departments and breakout companies captivate and convert customers through print and digital campaigns. We’re based in St. Charles, Illinois (approximately 40 miles west of Chicago), but serve a wide range of clients on a national, regional, and local basis.

We are in the business of bringing awareness to brands and helping to grow companies through strategic marketing, advertising, web design, video and graphic design services. Our fresh, creative approaches are translated through: graphic design, logo design, website design, advertisements, infographics, digital marketing, social media marketing, web banner ads, print materials, flyers, case studies, sell sheets, posters, brochures, branding and identity, brand guidelines, packaging, trade show booths, exhibit graphics, video, and animated motion graphics.

Our full-service advertising agency provides freelance marketing communications and graphic design solutions in St. Charles, Geneva, Batavia, Aurora, Naperville, Wheaton, Glen Ellyn, Hinsdale, Oak Brook, Elgin, Schaumburg, DeKalb, Joliet, Chicago, Chicago Suburbs, DuPage County, Kane County, Lake County, Will County, McHenry County, DeKalb County, Cook County, Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, Michigan, Iowa, the Midwest, USA and worldwide.

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