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Advertising Agency vs. Branding Agency -

Which One Benefits Your Marketing Strategy?

People frequently blur branding agency vs advertising agency, thinking that they are one and the same - but are they? They do work closely together, but they are also very different.

So, should you get an ad agency, or should you go for a branding or creative agency instead? To make your choice, you need to understand each concept properly. Once you establish which agency is best for you, you will know how each one can make a difference to your brand.

Note: if you are an established business with a small marketing team looking to build out a strong brand:

We have developed a signature service to get clarity on how you can differentiate in the market. Get in touch and we can walk you through the exact process.

Elements of a Branding Agency

Branding agencies are teams of people that will create the foundations for your brand. Starting with the brand strategy that defines who you are as a business, who you target and how you differentiate. People often make the mistake of skipping the strategy and getting started straight with the visuals and wonder why their campaign falls flat as nothing is rooted in a sound plan.

Advertising agencies tend to focus more on tactics for awareness and leading whereas branding agencies will focus more on strategy and setting the guidelines for how the brand should sound and look. This includes:

Building Your Brand’s Visual Identity

A logo is very important for your brand, it makes you identifiable and distinct. Think about the Chanel logo. You see it and you think of class, sophistication, the founder, Coco Chanel, and the meaning behind it. Good branding is about creating strong associations with core brand assets.

Color schemes are also very important when presenting the kind of business that you are. For example, black is serious and authoritative whereas pink is innocent and gentle.

A brand identity agency understands color psychology and which works best for your business to stand out against your competition. The last thing you want is to build the wrong associations.

A Branding Agency Helps Tell Your Company’s Story

A good story can lead to a strong brand, which is why branding agencies frequently use creative storytelling to tell stories. Ads are used to present the background of that story, attracting the target audience and encouraging them to connect emotionally with the brand.

Stories tie the characters to the elements of the advertisement, creating a memorable moment that delivers an effective message. This leads to a behavioral response from the audience that feels connected to the brand. Elements such as drama, humor, and action are added, depending on the message that the company intends to deliver.


Brand strategy is fundamental to defining a brand’s culture. Through culture, a company expresses its core values and how it expects employees to think and act. It may emphasize certain values such as honesty and reliability to create trust with its target audience.

Nike, for example, takes a very strong position through commercials that are backing the importance of the U.S. women’s soccer team winning the World Cup. They are advocating for equality and strengthening their relationship with their clients by remaining true to their values.

Specialists in Brand Strategy

Strategies are crucial for branding, as they set the foundation for how you plan on getting the message across. Some companies may use a fictional character to explain the product to the customers. Other companies prefer to create videos where the benefits of the product are showcased.

For instance, in 1926, Rolex introduced the Oyster collection, including the first-ever dust-proof and waterproof watch. As a branding strategy, they partnered with Mercedes Gleitze, a famous British swimmer. As Gleitze crossed the English Channel and emerged with the watch in perfect condition, their brand recognition improved.

Elements of an Advertising Agency

Now, let’s see what an advertising agency stands for. So, unlike a creative agency, an advertising agency uses a more practical tactic.

They take the branding elements and strategies so they can build awareness. These companies make use of informational content and technical development to generate leads and bring more clients your way.

Responsibilities of the Advertising Team

Advertising teams take what was outlined during your brand-building strategy and collaborate with the branding team to create an advertising campaign. Advertising agencies will usually include copywriters, designers, or account planners that will look at the needs of the client.

Unlike branding teams that focus on the company itself, the advertising teams put more focus on the clients – specifically, what appeals to them and how to reach them. They take the visual identity, the story, and the values of the brand and come up with verbal copies of the ad to draw in the clients. For an advertising strategy to be fully in sync, it needs to match the brand image.

Managing Campaigns on Social Media

Advertising agencies also focus on social media management, as most people are looking for information in environments they feel comfortable with. An advertising firm will use social media to bring its brand closer to the customer, building loyalty and increasing reach.

Advertising agencie will often turn to brand consultants to obtain fresh ideas. While branding agents are not afraid to be bold, abstract, and hyper-creative, advertising agencies may feel reluctant to do that.

A branding agency may conduct a campaign in a manner that makes a statement. On the other hand, advertising agencies will take a more subtle approach. They will work on an already-built image, and then use various social media strategies to present a persuasive message to the client.

Creative Thinking and Content Creation

Branding agencies also make their fair share of content creation to build brand identity, but advertising agencies take a different approach. They will use tools such as imaging, blog articles, videos, and different types of content to spread awareness and present you as an authoritative brand.

The content must follow the tone set by your brand identity. For example, if the brand sells luxury products to a specific category of people, the advertising needs to match that.

For instance, Tiffany & Co. sells jewelry that can be used for various occasions, such as weddings. As a result, they had the “About Love” campaign with Beyoncé and Jay-Z to express those feelings and attract the audience.

Tracking and Lead Generation

An advertising agency knows that your success depends on sales - and those sales are only possible if you can get your product to the customers. As a result, they will often use tracking methods to see how successful their ads are or how likely your emails are to be opened.

Branding agencies do a similar thing to measure brand awareness, but they use other strategies. This includes studies of referral traffic, social media activity, and surveying clients that come into contact with your brand. All this information helps both branding and advertising teams to improve their strategy, so that they may increase brand awareness.

Which one should you choose: Branding Agency or Advertising Agency?

When differentiating branding and advertising agencies, you should consider their purpose. If you need a logo, some graphic designers on hand, or a new banner, then simple advertising agencies may not be enough.

Brand development agencies like ours focus more on the brand identity and how you appear to your target audience. We create your story using visuals and your core values, allowing your potential clients to understand your brand and what you have to offer.

An advertising agency will use the online medium to make your product and company more visible to your target audience. For this to work, an advertising agency has its brand identity as a foundation, using various strategies to bring awareness. It also uses algorithms and tactical advertising campaigns so that the search engines can see your content.

Branding agencies should be used when your campaigns bring you short-term sales but do not succeed in differentiating you from your audience. Advertising agencies should be used when you have a strong brand identity that your audience can connect to, but you lack brand awareness and online visibility.

Who Is ikon?

ikon is a branding & creative agency that helps high-end businesses create a differentiated identity, to attract more profitable clients.

Our agency will look at competitors in your industry and help you come up with your brand persona. Our purpose is to make your core values and mission recognizable so that we can increase your sales and build your brand and reputation in the long term.

We use various strategies to differentiate your brand verbally and visually. We are not just "window dressing" your brand, we are making fundamental strategic decisions aligned to business strategy.

The benefits of working with ikon

Here are the advantages of working with us:

Brand Consistency

A brand that is not consistent is a brand that will confuse the customers. They will not be able to remember you if your style keeps changing. ikon respects brand consistency so that you may create a strong impression with your customers.

Clear Messages and Targeted Communications

We can help you develop targeted communications and send a clear message to your customers. This way, your clients will know exactly what they can achieve by choosing you.

Differentiating Brand Identity

Many businesses fail to make it past their digital strategy because their brand looks the same as any other company. With ikon, you can create a strategy that will make your brand stand out so that people will remember you in the long term.


Choosing a branding agency is not that simple. So, if you still have some unanswered questions, we’re here to help.

What Is the Main Difference Between an Advertising Agency and a Branding Agency?

An advertising agency usually takes the business forward in the short term, using advertising campaigns to increase visibility in the search engine. A branding agency will help companies develop their image in the long term. We will use smart moves such as color schemes, logos, storytelling, and brand identity building to make sure the audience will always recognize you through them.

Does a Branding Agency Do Your Market Research?

Yes, often branding agencies will do market research or partner with a research & insights agency. This is an essential step, as it helps us determine how and where to position your company. It ensures decisions are grounded in data, so we use numerous resources to enable our research.

Do Advertising Agencies Take Care of Branding Too?

An advertising team can take care of branding if we’re talking about a full-service agency, but they are not specialists. They are good at many things and not exceptional at a few. Usually, ad agencies stick to that – working with brands and producing ads.

We are firm believers in hiring the best for their specialisation – it’s how we build teams.

The Bottom Line

A branding agency and an advertising agency have several common points - mainly, to create a positive impression in the customer’s mind.

But branding takes place first. We create your image and establish what defines you as a brand. Advertising works on that and uses various strategies on how to take those messages to the market and build awareness.

If you see that your advertising strategy isn’t working, perhaps you should hire a brand consultant. You can’t market a brand successfully if you don’t have the right foundations. Book your call here.

This article is written by Alex & Brandon of ikon | We are a boutique branding & creative agency – but not in the traditional sense. We hand-pick a team from our experienced creatives to suit each project, delivering a personal and bespoke service. Our Creative Director, Alex Colley is always the lead contact every step of the way and our clients include the likes of Cartier, Westfield, Porsche, & F1.

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