For many companies, their brand is at the core of everything they do. It informs company culture, product lines and marketing decisions; however, it can be diluted or even forgotten in the digital marketing space.
The majority of companies are engaging in some kind of digital marketing. A few seconds to grab someone’s attention on Instagram or YouTube, branded search ads on Google or an ad on TikTok—these are all opportunities to connect with consumers and customers.
Basic paid marketing in the digital space often starts with prospecting to bring new customers into your marketing funnel, and retargeting and reactivation to convert or reengage. The ad formula for prospecting is usually some kind of clickbait or grand claim to get you in the door. Retargeting and reactivation, then, go after those who haven’t purchased or haven’t purchased in a while, trying to seal the deal by targeting them with promotions or products they’ve viewed and content that is deemed compelling for the audience.
While these are staples in any digital marketer’s toolkit, this alone won’t always fuel long-term viability. What’s often missing in these campaigns is the magic that goes into developing a loyal relationship with your customer over time—they’re missing that je ne sais quoi; they’re missing the brand.
So why aren’t more companies allocating a portion of their digital advertising budget to brand marketing? In my experience, it’s usually one of three things that prevents a company from investing in brand-led digital marketing.
- It is hard to show a clear return on investment (ROI) on branded campaigns, whereas product, promotion or service-driven campaigns can drive reliable return on advertising spend (ROAS), which ties the ROI up with a nice bow. Brand marketing can require a leap of faith and patience to analyze the long-term positive impact in a more nuanced way.
- There can be an assumption (especially with larger, established companies) that you don’t need to market your brand because you already have significant reach or relevance. This can be a dangerous assumption when consumer interest shifts and new competitors spring up daily. The reality of stagnating or declining market share can feel insurmountable.
- Some companies lack confidence in their brand story, tone of voice and positioning. In this case, you may have bigger problems, but it can certainly be paralyzing as a marketer when the brand itself is unresolved.
So, should you invest your digital budget in brand marketing? The short answer is that it depends. Only you know your profit and loss (P&L) and ultimately what’s right for your business, but let’s dig into why I think you should at least consider it.
An Argument For Investment In Brand Marketing
It’s important to develop a rapport and trust with consumers if you are looking to make a lasting connection that results in purchases, repeat purchases and long-term loyalty. We need to make this trust-building easy for consumers, and marketing your brand (not just its products and services) can meet this need while working to keep your company top of mind. Think about it, are you more likely to engage with a company you’ve never heard of with no indication of its background, credentials and quality, or are you most engaged with companies that you know and trust?
The exciting thing about a compelling brand story is that you can build loyalty and trust before someone ever even uses your product or service. You are investing in the power of your brand and laying the groundwork upfront—something that many companies can take years to build organically. By rethinking the way you look at digital advertising performance, you can make space within your company to tell your brand story to prospective customers and reinforce your base.
Investing digital advertising dollars in your brand story is a long-term play for your future and not for the faint of heart. It requires authenticity and fearlessness to put your brand’s foot forward. Products, technology and business models can all be knocked-off, reproduced and reinvented. The only real differentiator you ever own is your brand. Invest in it.