Brand vs. Campaign: A Quick Primer for Clarity.


Read Time: 3 Min

A huge part of our approach to building lasting relationships with our clients is the discovery process. Often in these immersive sessions we find ourselves having to back up and clearly define terms so that we can all be on the same page. Words and definitions often get thrown around and assumptions made that everyone is “in the know”, but after three decades of work in this industry we’ve found that time should always be made to make sure everyone is reading from “the same playbook”.

Recently we fielded the question, what’s the difference between a brand and a campaign?

Great question. We’re glad you asked.

The quick answer is longevity.

Brands are created to build visibility, which can take years. Standards such as logo use, fonts, messaging, and colors are defined to maintain a cohesive look from business cards to website to packaging. And hopefully through the process of creating and defining a brand you’ve figured out why you do what you do and why what you do matters. You’ve created a messaging framework that has given birth to your tagline and voice. These are set in concrete. Why? Because in a world with so much noise, and fickle attention spans, being consistent with your branding creates awareness that you would lose if your logo appeared one way one month and then you “rebranded yourself” unintentionally by changing the font the following month.

It takes years to build a brand, best to leave it alone. Your brand is made up of all of the things that form your organization’s or products’ identity. Effective brands are easily recognizable by consumers and rely on a cohesive message across marketing efforts.

So, does that mean that my ads always have to look exactly the same?

Another great question. Thanks for asking this one as well.

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Introducing “the campaign”.

A campaign refers to a marketing initiative that aims to promote a service or product — they’re something you do over a period of time and are ever-changing. A campaign can contain brand elements or reflect a brand but can also push the envelope to draw attention to a specific message or for a specific period of time. While your brand identity is longstanding or enduring. A campaign can contain brand elements or reflect a brand but can also push the envelope to draw attention.

A perfect example of a defined brand which never loses its north star but the creative is unexpected and fresh is Nike.

3 examples of nike ads

One might look at these and think “they’re all over the map”. You’ve got black-and-white imagery, electric colors, different fonts and photo styles. All of that is true to be sure, but their brand never changes. The “swoosh” is always there and the brand mantra of “just do it” is always present. The brand calls its audience to get involved, lose their fear, do what is hard and you and become better for it.

Another example is our work with the Denver Film Festival. Our relationship with the film festival as well as their “Film on the Rocks” summer series has been a long and fruitful partnership. Every year we create the marketing elements and every year the creative looks drastically different than the year before. However, the brand is always untouched, while the surrounding art explores the magic of film.

Denver film festival poster examples

At AOR, we believe a strong brand drives strong marketing creative concepts. A marketing campaign should use the brand as the foundation and build upon it for the specific message or initiative as a campaign is a moment in time to promote a specific message. The best campaigns add elements to a brand to ensure the message has a unique look and feel apart from the foundational brand, keeping it fresh, alive and interesting.

Arresting and expressive campaigns with a strong and unshakable brand are the antidote to noise and short attention spans.

Explore examples of how we weave brands into campaigns effortlessly.

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