When it comes to the right marketing process steps to determine how a business is structured, you have to consider how it will appear to your audience. A profound philosophy was shared when author Marty Neumeier suggested your company is “not what YOU say it is. It’s what THEY say it is.” They refers to the public and their perception of your business; and whether we like it or not, that is very much a real concept that we have to accept. With that said, there are things you can do to steer your company image in the right direction. One of those things is to layout The Soul of the Business. (There’s probably a better way to describe it, but this is what I’m rolling with.)

Within these marketing process steps are 3 elements that are related to the business soul- Branding, Marketing, and Advertising. While some may interchange the use of these words, each one has its own meaning that you can determine by simply understanding they are the “who,” the “what,” and the “hows” of your business, respectively:

Branding = WHO

Marketing = WHAT

Advertising = HOW

Branding is the first part of these core marketing process steps and is the overall identity of a business. This would include the company values, mission statement, and the logo. You know- stuff that might appear on an “About Us” page. Branding is what everything else in your business is structured from. A way to think about one facet of branding is what you want people to pay you for. Pretend you make and sell even an everyday item like a flashlight. There are a lot of ways you could build a flashlight, and every decision you make on its design will affect how much you can charge for it. Do you want a super inexpensive flashlight that might quickly sell a lot to most people? Or do you want to be an expert on flashlights and specialize in producing the most durable flashlight on the market that would appeal to the adventurous caver type? The question you will find yourself asking is if you want to be in the cheap business or the durable business? Either way could work, but the choice you make needs to be represented well throughout your entire company in order to have staying power.

Marketing, itself, is the second part of this marketing concept and is the message and story you are telling people about your product or service. This is the thing that gets people excited about your business. Going with our durable flashlight analogy again, you might tell a story how the light fell 300 feet down a cave, slamming against rocks and into the water, and it still worked perfectly. Marketing is really just about telling stories and optimizing the ways you get the right story in front of the right people.

The “How” of a business is Advertising and is the third and last of these marketing process steps. And it is often the most straightforward of the three. This is the means that you use to actually promote your company and get in front of people. This could be a TV ad, Google ad, or even a sign walker on the street.

Due to the advent of many technologies and processes, it was during the Industrial Age that the peak of the advertising era emerged. Radio and television were relatively new luxuries and was the single best way to get the attention of the masses. But this is the greatest difference to understand in our day:  The prime of the Industrial age had a focus on Marketing and Advertising going hand in hand. There weren’t as many ways to get creative with your exposure as there are now, and so companies resorted to the only thing available: traditional advertising.

By contrast, in the Information age, all three parts of this marketing concept is much more fluid, but I’ve found that Marketing and Branding tend to be more synonymous with each other. And here’s why – Everything you do with your company and your brand is an opportunity to market, thanks, especially to the internet. It’s easier to be found organically or by word of mouth, without resorting to the more traditional approach of the Industrial Age. We spent the last 100 years getting noise shoved into our face and letting it all be about “stuff,” but in the Information Age we no longer have to settle for a bunch of “things.” Now the paradigm has shifted to ideas and connection. Consumers have grown allergic to advertising, and how they respond to the stories companies surround themselves with.