What’s the Difference between Branding and PR?
Marketing and advertising are goal-oriented ways to improve sales for your business. More often than not, branding and PR are key elements in the overall marketing strategy. Sometimes our clients struggle with the core differences between branding and public relations, and it’s easy to see why. Essentially, branding influences PR but PR assists branding. It’s a chicken or the egg story for marketers everywhere.
How to Decipher Branding from Public Relations:
Branding focuses on creating an identity for a company and its maintenance. Branding is how the story behind the company, the name of the company, logo and other entities come together in one centralized and recognizable way—like a theme. Think of McDonald’s: although it’s fast food, the brand story sells the idea of the “Golden Arches” and all things idealistically and culturally “American.”
PR focuses on the management of a brand’s relationships… and it is a full time job. For brands (and individuals for that matter), public relations nightmares have a tendency to bubble up quickly, especially with how fast news travels over social media channels. Depending on the situation, there are several PR approaches a brand can take:
When Jessica Alba was accused of having toxic ingredients in her Honest Company’s household laundry detergents (a major blow, as the company’s entire philosophy is based on using non-toxic, earth-friendly products) her PR team quickly went to work to smooth over the scandal and assure consumers that Honest Company was on top of the issue and would work with better manufacturers in the future. Honest Company is currently valued at $1.7 billion, so it’s safe to say the PR efforts were successful.
This is when PR teams put out positive press to aid branding efforts. For example, a company that delivers meals for you to cook at home may donate a portion of their sales to a local food pantry. This type of effort aligns the brand with a positive message that shows consumers that they are mindful, caring and aware.
This is another major overlap between branding and PR, but the timing in which they happen is what primarily sets them apart. Branding is a continuous effort at establishing and maintaining a reputation, but PR often defends, protects and maintains a brand’s reputation during a time of crisis.