Seems obvious what would separate these things, but it's worth revisiting as the definitions evolve online (and in the real world). I'll use a new product called Truvia as a case study because I think Truvia is launching their product utilizing different channels wisely. I do not endorse Truvia. I've recently become very disappointed in some things I've learned about nationally distributed sweetners like Splenda or Aspartame. It's sickening to know these products are approved and so widely used, especially in mass-distributed products like diet sodas and sugarless foods. From what I've learned about their toxicity, these sweetners should not be fed to any living thing. So with that in mind, I don't know about Truvia the product. But Truvia the brand is a good example. The LOGO Call it an icon or call it a logo, a company's logo is often the most visual connection anyone has with a product or company. In the world of social media (ie.. Facebook or Twitter) a logo is actually a person's avatar, or profile photo. It carries the same weight and serves the same purpose as a company logo. Through repeated impressions, the audience makes a visual connection with the logo. Logos are usually part of an overall "graphic language". Truvia's logo is the result of market research. I'm guessing the green color was selected because the color green is trendy now due to the new "green" economy.
Branding The word is becoming overused, especially online. Branding is the collection of all things an audience will experience, and how all the brand elements work together. For company's the logo(s), color palette, photo style, typeface, tag line, brand message, placement, treatment or any other connection the audience has defines the brand. Personal branding uses the same ideas, but it becomes more personal. An individual's Twitter profile, avatar, background, tweets, etc... accomplish the same thing. The goal is to be consistent. Strong brands like UPS or Coke are strong brands through consistent use of brand elements. Through consistency, trust is established. Take a look at Truvia's web page. The branding is pretty clear:
Advertising Advertising builds brand awareness. Traditional advertising channels such as television, radio or print can be effective, especially when complimented online and in social media. With Truvia, I had first heard about the product in a television ad during the Today show. This was my first exposure to their brand, and liked the visual representation.
Marketing PR and Marketing are the things a company or individual does to communicate all the benefits of the product (or service). There's usually a strategy or marketing plan to utilize everything available (television, print, twitter, POS, packaging, promotions). The plan is to communicate a consistent message across all mediums. In the case of Truvia, I saw the television ad, then received a direct message from them on Twitter right after I criticized Splenda. The DM was an offer to send me a free sample.
PR is all about creating "buzz". There's an art to engaging media to get articles published and to get someone else to talk about you or your product. Recently, Twitter and Facebook have been a hot trend, and the people like @zaibatsu @micah or @AlohaArleen who are the successful at building their online influence have strong personal "brands" by creating buzz and being consistent. Truvia created buzz another way by doing actual taste tests with their product: [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fH12GKtfFic]
Promotions This is a part of the marketing mix that is designed to specifically change consumer behavior by presenting a benefit. Things like coupons, rebates or special events can garner a response that impacts the brand positively. Better yet, good promotions will help consumers perceive one brand as being better than competition. The Truvia website shows a number of promotions highlighting the natural ingredient used to make the product.
It's a new world and social media is approaching critical mass. New companies like Truvia are using the channels right. Individuals wishing to build their personal brand have all the tools available for free online. Hopefully this will help. Have a point of difference. Be consistent.