September 12, 2019

Branding vs Marketing vs Public Relations vs Advertising: What You Need to Know Before Hiring an Agency

Oftentimes, branding, marketing, public relations, and advertising seem like interchangeable terms. While they are often tied together to form a coherent and comprehensive business strategy, they do have marked differences that determine how a professional should go about content creation.

As a result, you must learn the difference between these four before hiring an agency to complete some of your business tasks. Otherwise, you may find yourself requested the wrong kind of content. We have compiled a breakdown of the four types of business messaging below so that you may be empowered in your future agency hire.


Branding boils down to how your customers perceive you and the quality of your user experience. Typically visual, branding can extend to the colors you choose for your logo, the design and optimization of your website, the fonts that you use for your business cards, and anything else that will make your business recognizable as your business to your customers. Think of branding as the image that stands out and creates a feeling of customer loyalty.

Your branding should have the ability to speak to your style, industry, and even values. At the core, your branding is your business’s customer-facing personality.


Your strategy to reach your target audience with the right content at the right time is pure marketing. This is more of a process and involves specific tools and techniques that you bring together to get your business out to the world. Marketing may include social media posts, flyers, business cards, SEO, and anything else that can be deemed as strategic for the lead generation and sales goals of your business.

Public Relations

Communication is crucial for businesses, regardless of whether they are consumer-facing. Your team must possess the skillset to send diplomatic emails, interface with the media, or managing a public event. Public relations consist of anything that involve your potential consumers, investors, or partners hearing what your business has to say.


You have likely set aside an advertising budget to reach your customers and generate revenue. Your advertising can include multiple outbound platforms and assets, such as print ads, pay-per click ads, newspaper content, and television ads. Basically, advertising is an outreach mechanism via any possible channel that will convince a customer to buy your product or service. This is often repetitive messaging that takes the form of traditional or modern content, depending on your customer personas.

Categorical Overlaps

As you can imagine, although there are variances between these four categories that do require different skillsets, there is still some overlap. For example, marketing is a large category that spans over branding, public relations, and advertising. A marketing strategy can include all three in a game plan to grow a business, but it does not have to if there isn’t a need or if the marketing budget is not enough to cover the associated costs. Additionally, public relations can be deemed as advertising if the communication outreach is for the purpose of getting the business’s products or services in the hands of the consumer.

Overall, when hiring an agency to conduct public relations, advertising, general marketing, or branding, you must be aware of these differences to fully understand and convey your business’s needs. While an agency typically has specialists in different fields, the type of content or strategy needed can affect which agency is the best selection for you.


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