Branding and advertising – why you need to know the difference

Posted on April 4th, 2014
Business Skills & Planning

Branding and advertising - why you need to know the difference

Businesses typically use advertising and branding interchangeably, thinking they are simply ways to convince customers and clients to buy their products and services. Because so many people misuse the two terms, their meanings can be confused.

Michelle Perrow, founder of the Assegai Awards and Johannesburg-based advertising agency Lesoba Difference, sets it straight.

The corporate or product design is a part of branding as it represents the company’s identity, giving the customer the first impression. Perrow says that through branding, “you’re taking your product and positioning it in a certain way so it attracts your target market. The more markets are attracted to you, the more money they will spend.”

Perrow says a great brand can help build customer loyalty to your product or company. Branding creates an association between the customer’s ideals and the product. “The ideal goal is that over time, you will eventually gain brand equity like Coca-Cola. This brand is memorable and has gained recognition over time just by its logo. Consumers are willing to spend more on a well-known brand,” Perrow says.


Advertising is any paid-for announcement to the public to persuade potential or existing consumers to buy a product or service. “Once you’ve established your brand, the investment put into the brand is taken to the market,” Perrow says.

The medium through which you advertise is just as important as the message. “This could mean putting the word out through the media such as newspapers, posters, television, radio or the Internet, all known as through-the-line advertising,” she says.

‘Adding incremental value to your product’

Perrow says in the end, it’s all about using your branding and advertising efforts to add incremental value to your product. Advertising will enhance potential buyers’ awareness of your brand. At the same time, the benefits of gaining brand loyalty will justify the cost of investing in branding.
Perrow’s advice for SMEs is to use the services of small advertising or branding agencies that show sustainable growth to keep costs low.