People often confuse branding with advertising and vice versa. The line between the two services is blurred in the eyes of the general public. The two may closely work together, but they are separate and distinctive services. Brand consultation stays by the motto of studying the minds of the target audience first and then trying to position the brand in the right manner. They can do so by taking advantage of the strengths of the brand and the weaknesses of competing brands.
Brand consultants try to first understand the nature and objective of the company. They meet the representatives from the company and have several rounds of discussions. They understand the entire history of the company right from vision, mission, short-term goals, long-term goals, USP, brand strengths, brand values, target market, and target customers. After they have gained a thorough understanding of the company, they move towards the process of strategizing.
Instead of directly communicating your brand’s features and benefits, a brand consultant helps in aligning your brand’s unique value with those people most important to its future, a.k.a. your customers. The brand consultancy also helps companies think through their brand challenges and struggles by making strategy based brand decisions.
An advertising agency, on the other hand, is a professional service dedicated to providing their clients with marketing and merchandising advice. Advertising agencies are hired to conceive and produce commercial messages including radio, TV, outdoor, internet, print, etc., for their clients. The agency provides a third-party perspective on the selling of the client’s goods or services. They can be hired for producing single commercial messages, or to create a complete 360º ad campaign.
The typical clients that partake in business with ad agencies are businesses, corporations, non-profit organizations, and Government agencies.
Advertising agencies now have evolved into companies that provide so much more than just ads. They have ventured into full-service agencies that provide a comprehensive menu of services, including branding, direct marketing, social media marketing, sales promotion, package design, product placement, media planning and buying, traffic, event planning, public relations, and sports marketing.
There are a few key elements that distinguish the two services.
Branding is Strategic and Advertising is Tactical
Brand consultation largely involves the development of a brand plan or the creation of a blueprint that will drive the brand strategy. They focus on building businesses and brands for long term goals. Brand consultation has a more holistic approach when compared to advertising. To further understand brand strategy, watch our video where we give you our take on it.
Ad agencies focus on the implementation of strategies and plans. For example, if a brand already has a set image created by brand consultation, advertisers can then use that image as the basis for the brand’s media plans, ads, product design, etc.
Since there are several levels of hierarchy and experts in advertising agencies, the clients generally have to communicate with a set of employees for different requirements. The presence of bureaucracy and inflexibility in their business models can make it frustrating for the client because a lot of time is consumed in this process.
But in a brand consultancy, a client has one point of contact, who is usually a consultant. This communication structure is not only a convenient option for clients, but it is also very helpful in efficiently achieving goals.
Area of Expertise
Brand consultants tend to have expertise in several disciplines. They are trained advisors with experience in several fields who build a broad view of the client’s business and its strategic challenges. Since they have expertise in several fields, they can solve broader business problems. They carry out an audit for your business, industry, systems, processes, and stakeholders. Brand consultants may also assist companies with strategies to improve research and development, sales, production, supply chains, operations, customer relationships, and retention strategies.
Employees at advertising agencies, in contrast, have expertise in a specific field. These agencies consist of creative individuals that excel in creating brand-building ideas, taglines, copywriting, etc. They come up with creative campaigns that quickly catch the attention of the masses. Television, radio, billboards, websites, etc., are used to push these campaigns in order to reach as many people as possible. Ad agencies are rarely asked to provide technical consultancy that may be outside their immediate area of expertise.
With the above attributes, we understand the major differences between advertising and branding. These distinctions can be useful for brands that are looking to hire a consultancy or agency for their business needs.
Advertising agencies and brand consultants both support design and communication. But their main focus on brand strategy differs by either developing the brands or refreshing them. They are equally responsible for the success of those brands at the end of the day.
When it comes to advertising agency vs brand consultants, brands must look at what their business really needs assistance with. Once they have pinpointed their concern, they can then hire either of these services.