Brand marketing is still important, now more than ever.
4 mins read
Brand marketing, by which we predominantly mean big above-the-line advertising campaigns such as TV, radio and out-of-home, can be quite scary. It’s expensive, takes a hell of a lot of time and resources to produce and comes with an equal amount of pressure to get right. For all of those reasons, it’s often a hard sell, especially in the current economic climate. With that being said, in this blog we’re going to explain why investing in brand marketing is so crucially important, now more than ever. I know, we must be mad right? Bare with us.
“Investing in brand marketing is so crucially important, now more than ever.”
So we know brand marketing isn’t easy or cheap. On the other hand, performance marketing is seen to be easier and cheaper, at least to start with. Not only that, it can appear to deliver tangible results pretty much overnight – something that brand marketing most definitely can’t. And if performance marketing is done correctly (check out this brilliant article on incrementality for more on that), it’s very easy to measure a direct correlation with ROI. With brand marketing, it’s nigh on impossible to measure any success at all in the short term.
To understand why investing in brand marketing is so important though, we must first understand the most basic of sales or marketing funnels. From brand awareness at the top of the funnel down to consideration/interest, desire/intent and action/conversion at the bottom of the funnel, a marketer’s job is to get as many people to the bottom of the funnel. Performance marketing, such as PPC and paid social, is highly effective at capturing and converting people in the bottom two segments of the funnel. But in order to continue generating conversions, you have to keep feeding people into the top of the funnel. This is where brand marketing comes in.
“By its very nature, brand awareness is quite tricky to measure.”
Brand marketing is all about brand awareness – it lives and dies by it. And by its very nature, brand awareness is quite tricky to measure. There are methods of doing so, such as focus groups, surveys and dips, but they’ll never be 100% reliable or give you a complete view of how aware consumers are of your brand. Now compare that to a PPC campaign report with lots of numbers, charts and pound signs and you can clearly see which one is more likely to make the CEO and CFO happy, hence why when times get tough and purse strings get tighter, so many marketers default to performance marketing to deliver customers today. Smart marketers though realise that brand marketing creates the customers of tomorrow. The smartest appreciate how brand and performance marketing should work together.
“When brands invest in brand marketing, it helps performance marketing too.”
That’s because when brands invest in brand marketing, it helps performance marketing too. Brand marketing increases brand awareness, which drives up branded searches. If you’re running PPC campaigns, this is a great opportunity because as branded searches go up, the cost per conversion also comes down, meaning you can spend less chasing competitive non-branded search terms. Better brand awareness also means you stand a greater chance of converting potential customers into real ones as some of the hard work required to convince them that you’re the brand for them has already been done. That’s why we’d always recommend pairing brand marketing with performance marketing as part of an integrated multi-channel strategy. But if budgets are being stripped back, the last thing you should do is cut investment in brand marketing.
There are so many case studies to back this up. In fact, our experience from analysing how different brands have reacted to previous recessions means there’s now an almost industry-recognised playbook for how to navigate the storm. Mark Ritson spells this out most eloquently in his article, 9 steps marketers should take to survive the dark times ahead. His first point deals with the dichotomy between brand and performance marketing in tough economic climates, explaining that history has shown us “the companies that maintained ad spend, or even increased it, during a recession saw little advantage during the hard months of the squeeze”, but that “the minute the green shoots of growth appeared, their growth was spectacularly superior versus competitors that cut back during the recession”. The benefits of long-term brand marketing are delayed, but boy do they make an impact when they kick in:
- Speak to the customer of tomorrow, not just today
- Drive up excess share of voice and share of mind
- Command a price premium, resulting in increased profitability
- Secure your brand’s long-term future and put it on track for growth
We’ve seen this debate played out more recently as the UK battles through the cost of living crisis and teeters on the precipice of another global recession. Just a couple of weeks ago, the CEO of ASOS, José Antonio Ramos Calamonte, came out and pointed the finger at over-investment in short-term performance marketing (over 80% of total marketing spend) and under-investment in brand marketing as one of the main reasons for its profit dip, after the global fashion giant reported a £32m pre-tax loss and rocky sales growth. Now, Calamonte is taking the brand’s marketing in a different direction with more focus on brand awareness and storytelling.
We’ve seen and heard it too from some of our own clients, who are grappling with where and how to spend their dwindling marketing bucks to ensure the greatest return and impact on the bottom line. While it’s different for every brand or business and the stage they’re at, one thing’s for certain – neglect brand marketing at your peril.
If you’re looking to invest more in your brand marketing, get in touch and let’s see how we can help.