How important is brand advertising for delivering sales?
As marketers, how often have you been asked to justify brand advertising due to the perception that it’s frivolous and an indulgence that results in zero short-term ROI and a questionable longer-term impact.
Brands have been driven to more immediate and easier-to-measure activity that’s delivered by shorter-term acquisition campaigns. Over the last 10 years when we’ve seen a myriad of digital suppliers pushing their credentials. Has this resulted in a reduction in spend on longer-term brand-building activity as the promise of short-term ROI is too hard to resist? The answer is probably yes.
These short-term campaigns may drive sales in year one. But, typically they lose potential profit in the following couple of years and do very little to drive brand equity and advocacy. In order to deliver long-term, meaningful growth, it’s imperative that brands strike a careful balance between long and short-term marketing investments and be aware that these short-term campaigns, rather than building brand awareness and driving customer loyalty, should be solely focussed on acquiring new customers.
So, do brands realise the difference between long-term brand building and short-term sales activations? And can short-term acquisition campaigns help build brand equity?
What is brand advertising?
Let’s firstly look at what we mean by brand advertising. In essence, the objective of brand advertising to add value to a brand by generating exposure. It should establish brand identity, create influence by ensuring brand credibility, and generate engagement by building strong connections with a target market. Brand awareness, perception, and consideration all play a significant role in a consumers’ decision-making -process when making choosing products or services.
Long-term brand advertising
Traditionally, long-term brand advertising is all about the top of the funnel, establishing the brand’s identity and credibility, getting the brand in front of your target market and on their consideration list, building strong connections, and increasing demand for the brand over time. Typically, this type of brand advertising would be seen on channels including TV, radio, out of home and press. These ads generally don’t have a call to action in the same way a direct response ad would, so are much more difficult to track.
Long term brand advertising should be used as part of your business’ brand growth strategy. This can include a combination of different strategies, such as market penetration, market development, new product development and diversification. It takes time to build up a positive brand association. Once established, it would likely mean that consumers are willing to pay more than they would for a generic product. In a world where the consumer has so many choices, a brand’s values, such as its ethical credentials, are becoming key points of difference. So, it’s key that a brand consistently invests in, and maintains, a long-term brand building strategy. If not, it could be detrimental to their bottom line.
Short-term campaigns, on the other hand, are more about the bottom of the funnel, with a focus on driving sales. Typically this takes the form of direct response advertising, which may lead on an offer of some kind, and have a prominent call to action, which enables marketers to easily track and measure performance via URLs, app installs, unique phone numbers or quoting codes.
Although the key focus of these short-term campaigns is generally acquisition, any short-term advertising campaign can have a halo effect and help build long-term brand equity. As long as the marketing messages align with the overarching brand ethos and strategy.
Is it possible to drive short-term impact as well as long-term benefit?
The goal of brand advertising is to drive awareness of your brand. Then, when the time is right, consumers will choose your brand over a competitor. Marketers employ a whole host of tactics and channels to get a brand on consumer consideration lists. Channel choices and the adverts themselves, should always be aligned with the overarching brand proposition, target audience, direct and indirect competition, and general market conditions. It’s a combination of these tactics that will ensure a brand’s continued success. As always, testing, learning and refining marketing communications should be a key focus. Doing so will allow you to discover what resonates the most with consumers.
It’s clear that there’s a delicate balance to be struck between investment in short-term acquisition campaigns and long-term brand activity. However, there’s no need to choose one at the expense of the other. By combining both strategies, brands can drive immediate sales and ROI, whilst also building brand awareness to drive future sales. It’s a win win for growth.
As an award-winning creative marketing agency we’ve helped many brands develop both their brand advertising and direct response campaigns. We deliver everything from brand strategy and development to campaign planning and creative. If you’d like to find out more about our wealth of experience, built over the last 30-years, or if you need support with a creative marketing project, get in touch today.
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