Our approach involves looking at brand building and marketing as two distinct strategies that can reach audiences in two different yet connected ways to strengthen relationships and lasting impressions.”
If you’ve ever wondered why some brands are memorable and some fade in and out of consciousness, it could be the difference between their ability to build their brand over time versus their focus on short term activations. Brands need both. They need to create and establish a lasting impression at every touchpoint, with the added support of turbo-charged campaigns along the way.
Brand vs Marketing
Some of the most important connections, and subtle differences between the two, are the headlines, tone of voice, values and emotions used to tell stories. Brand building supports intertwining narratives with clever associations and natural evolution over time – the trilogy of storytelling – compared to marketing’s focus on the most recent chapter of a brand’s life story.
Our approach involves looking at brand building and marketing as two distinct strategies that can reach audiences in two different yet connected ways to strengthen relationships and lasting impressions. The two routes can broaden brand awareness and engagement by reaching two types of audiences who may connect better with one than the other; and also by reaching the same audience in two different ways. Rational responses to marketing campaigns can lead to short-term behavioural reactions and decisions, whereas brand-driven emotive connections are more memorable and can result in longer-term brand preferences and positive perceptions.
The Golden Ratio for Returns
The ideal balance between long-term brand investment and action-driven marketing spend, considered the golden ratio for results, has been established by the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA) as 60:40 brand to marketing. However, many businesses continue to operate in the opposite weighting and focus on short-term activation budgets to drive their strategies and tactics. And we understand why – it is much harder to prove and therefore justify spend on long-term gains when short-term activations can more accurately be measured and immediately realised. However, a number of studies, conducted over extended periods of time clearly demonstrate the benefits of long-term, brand driven stories.
The IPA did what many individual managers and businesses don’t have the time or ability to do – it analysed the effectiveness of campaigns over 30 years, covering more than 700 brands in over 80 categories. The results showed long-term approaches to be1:
- 200% more efficient than short-term campaigns
- 200% more likely to drive market-share improvement
- 60% more likely to deliver profit improvement
The research also showed that whilst long-term effects always produce some short-term effects, the reverse is not true. When interpreting this within the constructs of storytelling, an ongoing narrative that communicates the unique value of a brand to its audiences, when aligned properly, will only benefit a more focused campaign. Whereas the long-term impact on a brand is not necessarily the accumulation of the short-term impact of a series of specific campaign headlines.
A further study conducted by McKinsey across more than 600 companies over 15 years revealed that those with long-term strategies experienced2:
- 47% more growth
- 36% higher earnings
- Added average market capitalisation of around $US7 billion
Brand Building from the Foundations Up
Brand building impacts every aspect of the business and its performance. The long-term strategy, or series of connected strategies, starts at inception, continues to activation and lives through growth. Focused on creating the strongest, most credible and trustworthy brand reputation, brand building shapes the perceptions consumers have about the company, products and values. And importantly, it supports the ups and downs of audience opinions, market turbulence and competitor activities.
Encompassing a brand’s identity, storytelling and experiences – each of which must resonate with the business’ audience, purpose and promise – brand building is not a one-off game plan focused on one area of the business or one particular objective. It is an ongoing process with one of its core objectives being to support marketing activities.
The Short-Term Campaign Boost
It can be tempting to create a marketing campaign without fully aligning it to the bigger picture. Shorter-term initiatives aimed at achieving specific objectives, such as increasing sales, driving awareness or launching a new product, are often not driven by or necessarily designed to fit into the longer-term brand narrative. In some cases, they can even undermine the value of a brand. Instead, a more valuable approach that supports the ROI of both the brand building and the marketing campaign, is to leverage the foundations already put in place by the brand narrative and use the marketing headlines to accelerate the business forward.
Working Together to tell The Brand Story
As mentioned previously, storytelling is an effective way to demonstrate both the connections and the subtleties between brand and marketing. It is imperative that marketing campaigns tell stories that are consistent with and underpinned by a brand’s core values, vision and messaging pillars. They present an opportunity to reinforce the brand’s benefits and strengthen the messages that will run in-between campaigns and across wider touchpoints. By leveraging the power of brand building in marketing, it means campaigns are not starting from scratch when it comes to creating emotive connections and lasting impressions with audiences.
Over time, successful brand building will result in greater audience loyalty, allow businesses to command higher price points, attract more prestigious partnerships etc. – all of which contribute to long-term profitability, albeit harder to directly attribute to a specific activity. However, whilst it is more difficult to measure ROI from brand building, the ROI from individual marketing campaigns will go some way to reflect the impact of and on the brand.
Balancing Short-Term Gains and Long-Term Value:
Achieving the 60:40 Ratio of Brand to Marketing
So how do businesses avoid falling into the trap of short-termism and achieve a 60:40 ratio of brand to marketing?
When under pressure to deliver short term wins, it is difficult to have more than just an eye on the long-term value of the brand. One answer is for CEOs and CMOs to get behind brand building as an essential part of any strategy that lives alongside marketing. The ideal mindset is to see the relationship and distinct stories as symbiotic.
Whilst the IPA study demonstrated impressive results for long-term approaches, it also found that investing in both delivers even higher returns. Strong brand building only enhances the effectiveness of marketing narratives and should be acknowledged as a significant contributor to any direct and short-term ROI from campaigns. And conversely, when marketing campaigns are aligned and complementary to the brand, they can deliver long-term brand equity in the form of strengthened perceptions and audience loyalty. Together, brand and marketing strategies and storytelling can create the most memorable and enduring brands in the hearts and minds of audiences.
For further insight into how to balance brand building and marketing campaigns, please contact us.