Branding, Marketing & Advertising: What is the Difference?


As branding and marketing consultants, we are often asked: “Is there really a difference between the two?” Throw advertising into the mix, and the waters only get muddier.

At Verv, we are intimately familiar with the differences between branding, marketing and advertising – because we live and breathe this stuff. It’s our passion and our playground. We know precisely how to differentiate between them and, more important, exactly how to apply the principles of each to meet your specific needs.

Let’s talk about what that means.


Branding: The Critical First Step

The importance of branding cannot be overstated, especially in a competitive real estate market like Vancouver. At its most basic level, branding refers to a name and a logo. But consider for a moment just how important your name and logo are. They are your initial interaction with the consumer; your first, and most important tool to build a perception in consumers’ minds about the qualities and attributes of your product.

Your brand is visually articulated through a design system that combines graphic devices, imagery and language, painstakingly crafted to create the desired effect. Successful branding achieves two crucial objectives:

  • Differentiates you from your competitors
  • Positions your product in the market

At Verv, we have developed a brand model to establish strategy, positioning and identity (detailed in an earlier post), culminating in a brand platform that is used as a touchstone for the lifecycle of your product – from preview to completion. Branding is the foundation of all marketing efforts, and it is critical that it gets done right.


Marketing: Feeding the Sales Machine

Technically speaking, marketing is all activity undertaken to create demand. More specifically, it is the activity whereby the right messaging is matched to the right audience. The goal of marketing is to increase sales and achieve a sustainable competitive advantage. Only by understanding the needs and wants of your consumer (based on market intelligence and insights), then answering those needs, can marketing be successful.

Your marketing efforts will focus on active promotion and communication with your target audience. Integrated marketing plans (sales environments, collateral, PR, advertising, digital presence, etc.) will determine how and where your product’s “story” is told.

By communicating on-target messaging to key audiences in compelling ways, your marketing efforts will drive awareness, elevate the value of your brand, and ultimately deliver qualified leads for your sales team.


Advertising: A Powerful Punch

“Advertising” can be a misunderstood term. In actual fact, advertising is simply one component of the marketing spectrum. It is the action of using paid announcements to inform and influence your audience, and create awareness about your product.

Traditionally, an advertising campaign is developed based on your branding and marketing plan, and distributed across paid media channels strategically selected to reach your target audience.

Advertising is a major piece of the marketing puzzle. A bold and compelling campaign promoted in the right places can be a game-changer for successful real estate projects. It can be differentiator that gets your project sold – ahead of your competitor!

So, the short answer is that advertising falls under the umbrella of marketing, while branding is that critical first step of positioning your product and creating your visual identity before you can begin to flesh out your marketing plan.

Give us a shout if you have questions, or want to discuss what’s missing from your project. We could talk about this stuff all day. Actually, we do.

Why Do We Only Do Real Estate?


Verv Projects is a collective of individuals who have specialized in real estate marketing for many years. While our roots and backgrounds are diverse, the common thread that ties together our kick-ass team is the branding, marketing and selling of property. Our greatest feats have been in the areas of residential, rental, industrial, commercial and recreational real estate over the past 11 years.

Residing in a city with one of the hottest housing markets in the world, it’s no surprise that we wanted to join the “cool” kids and showcase our talents in the industry. In doing so, we’ve had the opportunity to create some unique and, in our opinion, downright sexy campaigns for some of the biggest local real estate influencers and largest players across Western Canada and the United States.

Let’s just say we don’t plan to start promoting the newest gluten-free cereal or the hottest local restaurant on the block. (Unless, of course, either of these could help our clients sell more units!) We eat, breathe and sleep real estate. It is what we are great at, and why we create exceptional value for those we work with. If you want to market your cereal, we’re probably not your go-to. But real estate? Go with the specialists. We got this.

We have worked in several different real estate markets over the years… the searing hot markets in which product is gone faster than you can list it, and the cooler markets in which sales occur at a much slower pace. No matter the circumstances, each has excited and challenged us. Each has provided yet another case study and increased our knowledge base working within the industry.

Real estate might be our focus, but part of what we love about this business is that it’s not just buildings we are marketing: these are people’s homes. Everybody needs a place to call home, and we are privileged to participate in helping home-seekers find the perfect place to hang their hats.

What’s the future of Verv? We will continue to make our mark on the world of real estate by creating exciting, engaging content and strategy that compels our clients and their customers alike. We’ll nimbly navigate the evolving digital landscape and ever-changing consumer behaviours. And of course, we will continue to feed our passion for real estate in varied, always fascinating markets. Alas, no gluten-free cereal!

The Marketing it Takes to Put a City on the Map

Ever been to Serena del Mar? Probably not, because it’s a Colombian city that hasn’t been built yet. Developers and masterplanners have come together with a vision to build a city neighbouring the old city of Cartegena, taking inspiration from the culture and heritage and integrating it playfully with modern architecture that honours nature and urban amenities (Much like Currie, just, you know, more tropical). The principles of social inclusion, environmental friendliness, and an enriched quality of life are woven through the plan. Chicago-based VSA Partners and Colombian consultancy Novus Civitas were challenged with defining a place that won’t be completed for at least 20 years.

The big idea? Dreams meet reality, shape the world around the land, and evolve alongside the earth.

The visual identity, inspired by the early vision of the project  is derived from “los morros”, a geographical feature of the land that includes the mountains and the ocean.

In Colombia, watercolour is a treasured art form so the logo often appears on a watercolour treated backdrop in application. The brand colour palette is both modern and indigenous to the region.

Check out the project video:

The Verv Brand Platform

We’ve been building real estate brands for 11 years. Things evolve. One of the most challenging yet exciting evolutions we’ve seen is in consumers. They are more informed than ever; they have constant access to information, and lots of it (hello, internet). This challenges us; it requires us to build more compelling, strategically sound brands for clients.

Brands are more than just logos. Brands are entities. People emotionally engage with them, invest in them, and the brands they associate with are intertwined with their own personal identity. Because of that, it is crucial to set your brand up so that it makes perfect sense for consumers to invest. That’s where the challenge lies. With that comes the privilege of what we do.

So how do we do it?

  1. Start with research. Understanding fundamental dynamics around the market is the only place to start. We need to know:
  • who is buying what
  • how much they are paying for it
  • what the competitive landscape looks like
  • what threats might be out there
  • what we can leverage

We mine for insights so we can come to any project as smart as we can.

  1. Define clear business objectives. This is another crucial element to the equation. Developments will always have restrictions and performance requirements that directly impact positioning and marketing strategies.

We use the data set to build brands that deliver on our clients’ objectives that are totally appropriate for our identified market segment.

There are three key steps to our brands.

  1. Brand strategy – we’ve developed a platform that outlines the ultimate ambition of a brand, the reason it exists, the values with which it operates, what drives the brand philosophically, and finally, the all-important brand promise.
  1. Brand positioning – all of our lofty idealism around our brand is irrelevant unless it is attached to concrete data from the research. This step in our process aligns the brand strategy to key imperatives, like the target market, the credibility of the product, differentiators from the competition, and facts that legitimize our claims.
  1. Brand Identity – this is the best part. We interpret all of the strategic thinking into an identity and design system that brings the brand to life in a compelling visual way (i.e. pretty shapes and colours). This is where our positioning is personified in the logo, our values are demonstrated in the key messaging and our product ambitions are clearly represented in imagery and copy.

Cool, but what are the results?

The Verv Brand Platform provides the foundation and frame of reference for everyone involved in the project. It consolidates efforts and unifies messaging, which delivers efficiencies across the board. No detail is exempt from this platform, not even the choice of door handles.

Marketing efforts are precise and aligned with the brand. We understand our market segment, how to engage with them, and more specifically, where to reach them. From premium hand-delivered invitations to commissioned blog posts promoting the hottest new venues in town, we are in the right places at the right time. This is all directed by our brand.

Once our consumers are paying attention, acquisitions are quicker to come by. End-users intuitively understand the product early on – thanks to accurate positioning –, which frees the sales team up to focus on the details. We have delivered brands that sold out two towers in ten days. Despite the rush, we still received compliments on our brand touch points: the brochure, sales centre, and digital experience!

The brand doing its job means all of your collateral, marketing and sales efforts will reinforce your price per square foot. You might be at the top of the market or have an entry-level product. You could be selling, or renting. You could offer commercial, residential, or mixed-use. The brand supports the price point and the product type. It’s all about delivering against our clients’ business objectives.

Some of our recent successes include:

The Jervis

Gold House

Call us.