How Does Marketing Differ From Advertising—And From Merchandising & Branding

Advertising, marketing strategies, traditional advertising

How Does Marketing Differ From Advertising—And From Merchandising & Branding

Advertising vs, Marketing

Almost everyone has trouble sorting out how marketing differs from advertising, not to how it differs from mention merchandising and branding.

So here is a definitive statement on the definition of what each activity is, and the order in which they should occur—disobey the order, and you cannot reliably or rationally market your product or service; you will only be guessing.


Marketing is what happens first in the process and is the most important role in any business organization.

Think of marketing from 3 angles:

1.You have an industry that your business is in, and this does not change

2.You have an audience or marketplace that can change or innovate to some degree

3.You have a product or service than can and should innovate as the market reflects back to you

Marketing is the ongoing activity of interfacing your business with the marketplace—of communicating the value of a product or service for the purpose of selling that product or service.


Merchandising is the activity of creating a segmenting strategy for the promotion or sale of a product or service for the purpose of selling that product or service.

You need to decide what market segment you want to appeal to with the level of quality of:

• Quality of merchandise
• Speed and availability of service
• Dress code for representatives
• Returns, customer service, or warranty policy
• Office or retail store aesthetics and degree of luxury

Think about the difference between Nordstrom and Walmart (two profitable companies)—just as Walmart will never have a piano player, Nordstrom will never have a vague return policy. You cannot find good floor-service at Walmart, but you don’t expect to. The CEO of Walmart doesn’t lament “I wish I was the CEO of Walmart,” and vice-versa. Profitability is about making every – thing in your merchandising line up in accordance with your chosen product or service and its theme.


Branding is the strategic ascribing of words, a name, term, sign symbol or design, or a combination of these, so that a user may easily identify the product or service—so that the user will regard the product or service as the solution to their problem and motivate them.

When you think of any great brand, or observe their logo or imagery, it evokes certain words or a phrase to pop into your mind.

The goal in branding is to encapsulate your offering into a word or phrase— to make your proposal to solve a known problem obvious to the potential user taking a look at you. Ideally, a phrase or image allows the user to make an emotional connection to the product or service, and to be able to relate its story to others. You want a word, or a few words (a phrase) to pop into their heads when they see or think about your product or service.


Advertising is the activity of telling or communicating to potential users the benefits of using or employing a specific product or service to persuade the audience to take or continue some action.

Advertising can occur in numerous ways or methods ranging from simple to complex, free to hugely expensive.

In simple terms, it is the process of telling the world (or your intended audience) about what you have to offer to them.

And…at the end of all of this process is making the sale—of closing on a deal to sell your product or service. And if sales don’t happen, you need to begin back again at the beginning and innovate your MARKETING.

By Rob Flitton

advertising campaigns, consumer engagement, branding

marketing vs advertising