Brand vs Performance: The Marketers Dilemma

Brand vs Performance, a debate that rages on across the industry. At yesterday’s Campaign ‘Breakfast Briefing’ marketers from Direct Line, and Eve Sleep came together to give their thoughts on how they have either adopted or adapted their communications to focus on these marketing pillars. They were joined by Chief Strategy Officer at PHD UK, Mike Florence, and leading spokesperson on this topic (and one half of the team who wrote ‘The Long and The Short of It’) Les Binet.

Binet opened the morning’s proceedings and spoke about the distinction between both brand and performance communications. He eluded to the 60:40 split that is seen to be most effective across all categories and that brand communications help to create long term emotional connections with consumers, whereas as Performance is typically all about driving short term sales.

We then heard from marketers from each of the brands mentioned above, and it was interesting to see how they all saw a slightly different role for brand and performance communications and that each brand they represented is more advanced (or place more importance) in either area. Below are some of the key takeaways:

  • ‘VS’ isn’t a term that should be used, you need both brand and performance to grow your brands or client’s business
  • As an industry, “we are weirdos” said Cheryl Calverley of Eve Sleep. We’re the only people in the world that think about advertising in “channels”. Consumers don’t think like this, so as marketers you shouldn’t let channels dictate the story of your brand, it needs to be what is right for your consumer and what is most effective to generate growth.
  • On the agency side of things, it’s imperative to plan both Brand and Performance communications in synergy, not silos.
  • Andrew Smith from said that their approach to brand and performance was that Performances is “used as a tool to generate sales and growth, whereas ‘Brand’ is used to create differentiation in a crowded category”
  • The 60:40 rule of ‘The Long and The Short of It’ is a solid starting point, but it can’t be a one size fits all approach. Brands, agencies and marketers alike need to flex the percentage of either in reaction to the market, brand or cultural context.

For me this all eluded to the fact that we need to think about the audience first, and that the context and messaging of a communication “channel” is the most important thing. We shouldn’t be bucketing channels into two distinct groups, but instead, aim to create campaigns that are speaking to consumers in the right place and with the right message in order to achieve our clients business objectives!


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