Branding vs. Advertising—What's the Difference?

I've got an amazing guest pro to introduce this week! Andrew Kyrejko is the Director of Engagement at DeSantis Breindel, where he's gone deep into the world of branding. He'll help shed light on the difference between branding and advertising, and provide ways to explore whether it's the right career path for you. Let's get to it—here's Andrew.

I remember learning about branding during my first internship at Saatchi & Saatchi NY. On one hand, I was fascinated. On the other, I wished I’d known more about it sooner. Hindsight is 20-20 and hopefully you can find something useful in mine. Here are a few thoughts on what branding really is, and how it differs from advertising

Brands create meaning
Take a few steps back from a digital campaign, Instagram video or in-store experience, and you might see, or better yet, feel the brand. It’s the deeper story that ties an entire organization together. Apple’s brand is all about enriching lives. For Delta, Keep Climbing captures the brand’s ambition to continually improve. Warby Parker embraces eyewear for all.

Discovering that unique purpose is only the beginning of branding. Once an organization knows what it stands for, it can begin to infuse that meaning throughout all that they do. Brand becomes a powerful driver of long-term business decisions, like which new products to create, how to improve the customer experience, or where to open five new stores. Brand informs how an organization communicates to employees, investors and customers, through a certain vocabulary, distinct design language, or set of digital behaviors used across spaces and screens. Strategic and creative components like these form the core of a brand—the essential markers that make a brand unique—and empower advertising agencies to develop incredible marketing campaigns and experiences. 

So now you want to work in branding
Over the years, I’ve heard my peers in advertising talk about how their agency does branding too. It’s true… sort of! Advertising agencies sometimes do branding, and branding agencies sometimes do advertising. ‘Sometimes’ is the key word here. If you feel passionate about creating that essential meaning, the brand itself, consider exploring shops that specialize in brand strategy, brand design, or brand experience. Just like the advertising universe, there’s a spectrum of agencies and consultancies that vary in size, specialty (CPG vs. B2B vs. Pharma to name a few), and philosophy. They offer roles across account management, strategy, design and operations that are often transferable between advertising and branding. I make this point because the branding universe isn’t for everyone, and that’s OK. Just be smart about how you get your feet wet.


There are many ways to understand what branding really is before you decide to take the plunge as an intern or new hire. Take a look at work on agency websites or start here. Follow shops on Instagram to get a glimpse at how they think, celebrate good news and have fun. It's truly a different universe so diving deeper could make your next step simpler or more complex. What’s important is to try and see into these agencies, their teams, their work and even their clients to imagine how you’d feel contributing to that kind of impact.
The more we can share, the better. Here’s to brand stewards everywhere!