The modern marketer: Brand building vs. performance marketing

Building strong brands is a top priority for any company and in the past has been viewed as its own goal, separate from performance marketing. The two are often talked about as two distinct activities and media mix allocation is bucketed in brand versus performance distribution.By Author Marissa Tarleton CMO, RetailMeNot,

As the landscape has changed, along with fundamentally, marketers need to prepare for a dovetailing of the two. Brands are looking for growth and differentiation, but that cannot be done with investments in either brand or performance. In fact, most best practices now suggest that the smartest media approaches are those that accomplish both brand building and performance benefits cohesively.

Traditionally, “performance marketing” has been defined as the ability to target the right person at the right place and the right time. It has been associated with digital channels primarily, and its strength has been strong measurability, particularly to take action within the quarter. What’s not to love? Everyone dropped their focus on brand and moved media in that direction.

It’s not that simple though. Marketers need to be looking for the media partners and agencies that think beyond one or two channels. Conversely, brand agencies need to be held accountable for measurable ROI. Here are a few places that marketers can start to get creative.

Performance marketing needs to also build brands but in a more personalized way

Marketers should think about their message and content strategies in a more 1:1 way, knowing that they can be targeted to specific audiences. Analytics and automation will create the need for more tools to assess the landscape and audience. This doesn’t mean that we should remove creative from the process. In fact, creative will be needed even more as the content volume ramps up and the need for testing multiplies. It is imperative for in-house brand teams to create a strong tone of voice and a clear creative brief to keep performance and brand marketers cohesive in their goals.

Additionally, marketers are beginning to rethink a fully programmatic advertising program in favor of a more manual approach to buying media. This ensures that their creative matches the context in which it’s served in a brand-safe way. Marketers can ask for more from their agencies in order to better use performance media for both brand building and performance.

Brand and creative must figure out how to better incorporate analytics into their process


Incorporating stronger insights and data into the creative process can help brand teams expand advertising more deeply into digital channels.

Many companies build their brand creative based on the channel. Often times, this can cause silos with a larger agency partner who is building out their TV and brand assets, while the remaining digital and print assets are delegated to an in-house design team or additional partners. Instead, companies should build out a central, critical message — a key value proposition, message or claim — and create all assets around it.

One highly successful brand building and performance media vehicle is digital radio. Not only is it super targeted and measurable, it has among the highest impact on brand consideration. The role of a company’s creative team and brand agency partners has to shift, and they must begin to work cross-functionally around data.

Personalization is table stake

Broad segmentation does not apply anymore, as your communication must be 1:1 using mobile-marketing automation tools. For marketers, we are now able to strive for more 1:1 marketing because data and insights allow us to see particular consumers when they are stepping into a certain store and shopping for a particular item. Of course, marketers must take the necessary precautions to gain the trust of their users by allowing consumers to decide which personalization factors they wish to opt in or out of. The goal should be to help customers find what they are searching for, while also removing any and all “creepy” factors of personalization.

However, as data starts to drive more and more of our media mix, brand and performance can work together to accomplish the ultimate goal of delivering the right message to the right person at the right time. Marketers just need to get a little creative. Additionally, when there is a strong partnership between marketing teams and analytics teams, CMO’s can better understand how well their marketing dollars are being spent.

Brand marketers should be well-versed in the analytics and data behind creative, while digital marketing leaders are also in sync with brand goals. Both performance marketing teams and brand teams, plus their agency partnerships, are equally important to the success of a business. However, each must continue to evolve in order to survive in this era of data, insights, increasing consumer demand for seamless experiences and the need to create content with a centralized approach.

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