The Difference Between Marketing, PR, Advertising, and Personal Branding

A few months ago on Ads of the World and Pronet Advertising, the difference between marketing, PR, advertising, and branding was discussed through pictures.

marketing pr advertising personal branding

If you take a close look at the pictures from a personal branding perspective you’ll notice that you definitely don’t want to market yourself as well as advertise yourself. Doing these two things makes you seem a bit desperate. Telling a woman that you are a great lover usually doesn’t mean much because it is coming out of your mouth. And if you go one step further by repeating that you are a great lover (advertising), you can definitely count on the woman not believing you. But on the other hand if a woman tells another woman that you are a great lover or if a woman tells you that “I hear you are a great lover” chances are you are going to get laid.

If you want to brand yourself you need to understand that it is much more effective when other people talk about you in a positive fashion compared to self-promotion.

Hopefully the picture helped!

P.S. If you want help with marketing and personal branding check this out.


  1. This is easier said than done though. It’s about building influence and growing the number of brand evangelists for You Inc.

  2. Patricia - Spiritual Journey Of A Lightworker :

    Thanks for the pictures. They do explain the concepts so that I understand the differences. I have seen others talk about branding and wasn’t sure exactly what they were talking about.

  3. Brilliant!

  4. Pablo Palatnik :

    I think the PR and Branding comes with good advertising and marketing. Great illustrations though. It’s good marketing and advertising that will do the trick.

    For example, companies that use celebrities in commercials, etc or pay them to wear their clothes, in a way, thats all of them put together. Really depends on the strategy you implement for each channel that can make the other one (i.e. marketing, branding) a success.

    • With products and services I would have to agree, but when it comes to personal branding I think you can do it by helping others and leveraging PR.

  5. For what it’s worth, I am a great lover.

  6. Pablo Palatnik :

    Neil, absolutely. Personal branding is a whole different story and I missed that part. I would have to agree with you, the best way of personal branding is through others. Your personal branding came from others in the industry talk about you, Mr. “social media expert” and speaking in conferences which really developed your status in the industry which is great. Anyway, very cool blog…glad you changed the design cause the other one was cool but kinda weird (the design).

  7. I love you! 🙂

  8. Nice analogy! What about those of us that get laid just by smiling at the girl?

  9. In the the marketing and advertising slides, it infers that the difference between marketing and advertising is simply volume. A better depiction would be to have the guy speaking to one girl about the benefits of his love making for the marketing slide, and then bellowing over a megaphone to a crowd of people about his great lovemaking.

    That’s hard to depict in a silhouette.

    • That would be difficult to represent, but I do agree with you. In many cases marketing is targeted towards an individual while advertising is targeted to a group.

      • I disagree. If the purpose of marketing is to bring your services or product to the attention of the masses then the purpose of advertisement is to convince a targeted few why your service or product is right for them. Maybe it could be explained this way:

        Marketing – “I’m a great lover.”
        Advertising – “I’m just the right lover for you.”

  10. Christopher Harley :

    This works as a very succinct representation of each exercise. Thanks for this, Neil.

  11. Marketing is understanding what customers want, it’s not just promotion. And advertising is a part of branding.

    • There is a lot more to marketing such as the 4ps. Problem is I got the picture from Ads of the World instead of creating it myself.

  12. Matt Ellsworth :

    thats a great overview.

  13. Remember back to your text books….advertising and PR are elements of marketing. The Marketing picture should have included elements of the other pictures…then add in a price or promotion, and some nice packaging. Then, placement of the messaging should be relevant to being a great lover…

  14. I’m not a marketing expert and knew only a few terms in marketing but the pictures helped a lot for me to understand it clearly..^^

  15. The Baldchemist :

    Just make sure that you are pitching the demographic you wish to attract. Pitching to all and sunder creates indifference.
    Go for the top drawer and make sure you know what ‘top drawer” expects.
    The Baldchemist

  16. Tim Molendijk :

    Hmm… it feels strange to compare these four as if they are at the same level. Especially branding — other people reacting to your (positive) reputation is of course *the result* of the branding, not the activity itself. (Otherwise it would be an astonishingly passive activity.)

    I would depict the four terms and their relations as follows:

    – Branding: building a brand. This can be achieved by (a.o.):
    +— PR: maintain good relations
    +— Marketing: communicate (tell something and listen, or vice versa). The ‘tell something’-part can achieved by (a.o.):
    +— Advertising: spreading the message

    • Tim Molendijk :

      === edit: fixed tree ===

      – Branding: building a brand. This can be achieved by (a.o.):
      +— PR: maintain good relations
      +— Marketing: communicate (tell something and listen, or vice versa). The ‘tell something’-part can achieved by (a.o.):
      +— Advertising: spreading the message

      • Tim Molendijk :

        === crap, still messed up, try again ===

        – Branding: building a brand. This can be achieved by (a.o.):
        +— PR: maintain good relations
        +— Marketing: communicate (tell something and listen, or vice versa). The ‘tell something’-part can achieved by (a.o.):
        ….+— Advertising: spreading the message

  17. I agree with your views. You have to market yourself only with a person who influences 100 other people’s views. Then, you need not talk anything to anyone. Wikipedia calls it as “Influencer marketing”


  19. that graphic pretty much sums it all up…im passing this along to a lot of the folks i work with…great stuff…mike.

  20. Lawrence Cheok :

    Great message! If you have to tell someone how good you are, then you probably aren’t.

  21. Great comparison!

  22. Very good pictorial analogy of the differences between marketing, public relations, advertising, and branding!

  23. congrats on the PR5

  24. Megan Vaillancourt :

    Great Information and love how you used the pictures for your analogy. I agree totally.. someone writing a reveiw or testimonial, is certainly the best option. It goes back to you aren’t successful by how much you earned but by hom many people you help along the way. The more you assit the more great reveiws you will have. Thanks for the article

  25. Great analogy. Makes it especially easy to explain to people who really don’t understand the difference between these phrases.

  26. That’s a great comparison

  27. Travel Story Blogger :

    This is fantastic! I better Stumble this page.

  28. That is true, but there is another factor, which says that throw a lot marketing the message gets in people’s heads and when they have to choose later whit whom to get laid the firsth one they think of is the most advertised 🙂

  29. What about the ex-gf who’s talking $&!# about you ’cause ya left her a$$ – would that be the press (i.e. negative press?)

  30. Maria Elena Duron :

    Pictures ARE worth a thousand words! I agreed with all of your pictorials except for the marketing one. Marketing, in it most simple and direct definition, facilitates an exchange environment. There are many arms to marketing and unfortunately we see more of the “promotion” aspect which is just a part of marketing. Marketing encompasses the branding of the product (even if the product is YOU), is it the right price (price doesn’t necessarily mean a monetary value – it can be a time investment or effort), location & timing also are a part of marketing then finally the promotion side. If all of those elements are not facilitating an environment for exchange then the exchange won’t happen.
    Great post!
    Maria Elena Duron

  31. Oh, this was SOOOO written by a man. Being a great lover will not get you laid. Being a great GUY will!

    One of those can be taught, but the absence of the other one makes the whole thing doomed to failure.

    • Nice one, Claire! Guess the guy never did his market research to learn what his customer wanted or how she should be spoken too! Now his marketing investment is wasted! HA! HA!

  32. very similar to what i have posted on my blog. lolz

  33. P.S. These images are from the fantastic book called “ZAG” by Marty Neumeier. Check it out – it’s a great read.

  34. What a great idea. I really enjoy the content of your blog. Keep up the awesome work.

    Love & Gratitude,
    Think Simple. Be Decisive.
    ~ Productivity, Motivation & Happiness

  35. Great visual picture and pretty accurate imo

  36. Hey, that’s very interesting. Make good sense also. Enjoy your info!

  37. I like the visual idea of these concepts. kind of a nice reminder what NOT to do

  38. But what happens when the girl finds herself in bed with the object of a PR exercise, who doesn’t know his arse from his elbow, literally. I feel a set of negative PR illustrations are needed for this one. 🙂

  39. Great picture. It makes it easy to understand when you put it in visual terms.

  40. I think the advertising slide is only partially correct. The man should be telling everyone he is a great lover, not just the one girl. Maybe using a sign, a loudspeaker, wearing a t-shirt that says he is a great lover, etc.


    • Totally agree with you, but sadly I was unable to modify the image because I do not know how to use Photoshop.

  41. Doesnt hurt branding to have a 9 and a half inch crank.

  42. Multimastery :

    The way this guy is spreading himself around, all of this could actually fall into the category of VIRAL Marketing & Advertising LOL…

  43. nicoposting :

    What about teasers? That would be the guy telling the girl: “want to find out what a great lover I am? 🙂

  44. Strainght to the point, cannot be clearer. It takes time and patience…

  45. Web Development India :

    Person does not need to read an article, you have made wonderful illustration of this article through images. Neil you rock buddy.

  46. Interesting differetioation

  47. haha….So true. I think I saw this on a T-shirt.

  48. Social proof is golden. Great post.

    from wikipedia, “In April 2007, the Washington Post convinced Joshua Bell, a famous violin virtuoso to play in the Washington DC subway during the morning rush hour. So he took his $3.5 million Stradivarius violin and played. Almost no one noticed or stopped to listen. He collected a total of $32 for an hour of playing (excluding a $20 bill that was given by a person who recognized him).”

    • Yep, it can do a lot for you. If people know what you are doing or who you are, it can be very effective.

    • Sometimes if something is “too good to be true”, people will not appreciate it, even if it was true.
      I saw a show once where the host went down the street stopping them, trying to hand them cash, and most people completely ignored him.

      • Or if it is too widely available people won’t appreciate it as much. Rare things usually are appreciated more often.

  49. Very interesting story by pictures but it does illustrate some good points. As well as offering humor. Branding is important and if others speak positively of you it is better than you tooting your own horn. I like to use because it allows you to load your accomplishments and projects and allows others to comment, agree or disagree with what you said validating and also keeping you in line.

  50. Jeremy Morgan :

    This is a very interesting way of illustrating this, but totally true. Though I think marketing has more to do with him finding the girl he’s going to brag about being a good lover to.

  51. Point of Sale :

    Looks very interesting. Thanks for sharing..

  52. Vic of BusinessAccent :

    I totally agree. But that will not be achieved overnight. It needs time and patience. It must be built with a good reputation and integrity. The point is…you actions are speaks louder than your own words.

  53. It definitely is more work to build You, Inc., but It’s great to see how many natural leaders are emerging just from sharing their passions authentically. Awe.some pictures.

  54. You can tell when someone’s invested a lot of time in themselves.

  55. I’m busy digging through your archives, Neil and am having a blast! Some of your posts are just legendary, this being one of them. Short and sweet, with a message everybody can relate to and learn from. Good one!

    • It’s pretty interesting how Quicksprout grew from what it was like before to what it is now isn’t it?

  56. Mark Aaron Murnahan :

    I saw this ages ago and came across it again today. It is just as great as I remembered it.

    Being married with three kids, I get a kick out of how I can apply this quite literally. Here goes:

    I market a lot. The audience is easy to target, but the timing sometimes stinks. When my marketing signal gets too weak, I advertise until the target audience gives in. When it really comes down to it, the greatest value is that I am branded like Pepsi and Kleenex. 😉

    • Obviously it takes a lot of money to be a guerrilla in the market place so you need to find other ways to be cost effective.

  57. Make Money Ma' am :

    It’s so true if you have 2 people tell 2 others how great you are now you have 4 people telling 8 other people how great you are. Now you having 12 people telling others how great you are.
    Now that the positive side of it but what if you had all these people bad mouthing you.
    So the moral of the story is to always put your best foot forward.

    • Well that’s the part you need to work on… negative feedback travels as fast if not faster than positive feedback.

  58. Bill - lawn mower reviews :

    Hi Neil,
    First up, I just read your profile. Wow, very impressive indeed.
    Thanks for the article. I love the diagrams and think they highlight each of different kinds of marketing perfectly.
    I’ve seen public relations in action on a lot of forums, where others are recommending a product. I’ve even bought one or two of them myself.
    Thanks for the great read.
    All the best
    Bill Wilson

  59. I like it. simple explaination

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  61. I don’t even know how I ended up here, but I thought
    this post was great. I do not know who you are

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  62. Jessica Hobbies :

    That is true, but there is another factor, which says that throw a lot marketing the message gets in people’s heads and when they have to choose later whit whom to get laid the firsth one they think of is the most advertised ,,,,,,,,

  63. :

    Amazing! This blog looks just like my old one!
    It’s on a totally

    different topic but it has pretty much the same page layout and design. Superb choice of colors!

  64. Really nice ideas to interpret the marketing words with personal branding. Thank you Neil, what a fantastic infographic you have exposed here.

    • Myhox, glad you enjoyed the infographic. I think personal branding is a must if you want your ideas to gain traction and relevance.

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  67. Great pictorial representation, even a layman can understand the topic in no time. Hats off to you Sir.

  68. uthman Saheed :

    This is really simple, short and meaningful. Its short in reading but really comprehensive for whosover want to go into marketing or advertising.

  69. Wonderful Neil, Your article is just awesome i also prefer Personal Branding….

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