Digital Marketing: Branding, Marketing and Advertising

By Toni Carter

Branding, marketing, and advertising are all tools you use to help promote your business. They help you acquire and retain customers, as well as drive sales and profits. These elements are all closely connected in purpose, and tend to feed off one another, making it easy to get them confused. Understanding the differences can help you develop more focused business initiatives, and maximize the effectiveness of each tool.


Branding is what your company believes in, why it exists, and how consumers feel about your business and products. Branding promotes loyalty and long-term commitment. The visual components of your brand include your company name, logo, tagline, fonts, and color scheme. These elements identify your brand and create an association in people’s minds between their desires and beliefs and your company’s ideals. Learn more about branding here.


Marketing encompasses strategies to build awareness of your company’s products and services. It also involves promoting and protecting the brand. Every message about your company is part of your marketing. This includes all social media interactions, customer service, personal relationships, printed materials, websites, social media profile pages, and anything that contains your brand imagery. You can read more about marketing here.


Advertising is a subset of marketing, focused mostly on acquiring customers and driving sales. It generally relates to paid campaigns that are carefully written and designed to reach a target audience through various media, including online, newspapers, magazines, posters, television, and radio. Learn more about the principles of small business advertising here.

These initiatives work together. Advertising can enhance brand awareness, while branding drives the style and direction of advertising campaigns. Marketing can manage brand accountability and shore up a brand’s reputation, in addition to promoting ad campaigns.

Create a Plan

Develop a content marketing strategy. Your marketing efforts revolve around pushing out interesting, relevant, and entertaining content to your customers and prospects. To do this effectively, you need a plan that lays out challenges, business and sales goals, and metrics for measuring success.

Create a brand guide with information, guidelines, and descriptions of your brand, such as the company mission, values, goals, social good initiatives, and emotional touchpoints. It should also include a more practical style guide with instructions on proper use of the logo, company colors, preferred fonts, packaging rules, and anything else that will keep your brand appearance consistent in the public eye.

Need one-on-one help? The SBDC is here to help you every step of the way. We have industry specific Business Specialists dedicated to assist business owners with all digital marketing efforts. Request a no-cost appointment today! Need quick tips and strategies? Register for a marketing related webinar, or in-person event