Marketing & Advertising

Unsure of Brand Ads? Just Do It

Ecommerce marketers often focus on direct-response advertising. It’s easy to measure, after all, and can result in immediate sales. This seemingly pragmatic approach to ads ignores the importance of brand recognition, which drives performance across all marketing channels.

Marketers reared in the pay-per-click era often have only a textbook understanding of brand advertising. They define it in technical terms without understanding its benefits.

These marketers might say, “Brand advertising is centered on enhancing awareness, fostering customer loyalty, and forming lasting connections with clients.”

Hence when marketing folks are trying to reach sales goals this week or month, brand advertising may seem theoretical, a wasted effort.

Brand and Search Traffic

To be clear, marketing teams should start with direct response advertising. But don’t stop there. Brand advertising is the next step to improve all marketing efforts.

Take search traffic, for example.

During a conversation, the top marketer at a business doing more than $10 million in annual sales complained to me that consumers on Google searched for his competitor’s name more than his own.

This otherwise savvy professional should have realized that this was a battle of brands. His competitor had more brand recognition. Many potential customers were searching for the brand they already knew rather than looking for the product category.

Google Trends confirms the $10 million revenue business (in red) has fewer searches than its competitor (in blue).

The difference was brand advertising. Placing branding ads on YouTube, streaming video services, and even traditional channels almost certainly gave this company its competitive advantage in search traffic.

Brand and Trust

Shopper trust is complex. A strong product, on-time delivery, and good value are all trust builders. And so is brand advertising.

In his 2021 Dreamforce keynote, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff presented the “trusted enterprise” concept.

To earn trust, Benioff argued, businesses must prioritize stakeholders, operate transparently, and be accountable. He emphasized that building a trusted enterprise is an ongoing effort with a customer-focused strategy — prioritizing data security and privacy and investing in employee welfare. It’s not a quick process.

But trust doesn’t equate to prominence. A business can communicate that trust via branding campaigns. Shoppers purchase brands they recognize and trust. This is true for first-time and repeat buyers.

Screenshot of a 2019 Salesforce ad reading, "We bring companies and customers together."

Salesforce’s branding campaigns, such as this example from 2019, communicate trust.

Nike has long relied on brand campaigns with its ubiquitous swoosh and “Just do it” tagline. Both evoke memories and emotions for many consumers.

Screenshot of the Nike swoosh and "Just do it" tagline below it

Nike’s ubiquitous swoosh and “Just do it” tagline evoke memories and emotions for many consumers.

Better Performance

Brand advertising makes all campaigns work better.

“Businesses may dismiss brand advertising for its lack of immediate ROI,” wrote Diane Callihan, president of Callihan Content Creation. “But building brand relationships over time may drive sales you’re unaware of. For example, it can be misleading to attribute all the credit for a purchase to a search ad conversion. While the search ad may have closed the deal, it may not have been the primary marketing activity that led the customer to purchase. Consistent and steady brand advertising very often lays the groundwork for successful search ads and other conversions.”

Callihan’s point is consistent with Edelman’s 2019 “Trust Barometer Special Report: In Brands We Trust?” (PDF). It found that brand recognition and trust lead to a 28% improvement in advertising receptivity.

And that includes direct-response ads. Imagine two direct-response campaigns for near-identical products and prices; the advertiser with the most recognizable brand nearly always receives a better response.

Bottom line, brand ads improve performance across all marketing channels.

Armando Roggio
Armando Roggio
Bio   •   RSS Feed