Brand and Direct Response – It’s About Time We Have the Conversation (Part 1)
Two years ago, I would never have written these words.
But the world has changed. Or maybe in this regard it’s the same, but I just see it differently today.
I can only share my perspective of how these two concepts live together. And how they are being brought together at an ever-increasing rate.
Which is relevant for those companies that want to build something substantial and sustainable.
I’ve recently been comparing direct response & brand to income & wealth. We need income (direct response) to build wealth (brand). The latter doesn’t just appear. But at the same time, ignoring the latter can put increasing pressure on the need to generate an income, if not potentially inhibiting our ability to do so.
Let me first take a moment to clarify what I mean by each.
My sense is most readers here are familiar with DR. Campaigns that drive the customer with a specific action. And media that is tracked, measured, and analyzed with as much granularity as possible.
Perhaps it could be best summed up by being able to effectively answer, at least somewhat effectively, the questions, “What should I do tomorrow? Should I do more or less of what we did yesterday? Where should we spend differently than yesterday?”
When the word “brand” is brought into a conversation with DR, it is typically in the context of brand advertising.
But this isn’t what I’m talking about.
I’m talking about the concept of a brand.
The building of a brand.
That the brand stands for something.
That the brand is about values. A perspective. A character with a personality that exists.
To paraphrase Roy Williams, who wrote “The Wizards of Ads,” it’s certainly not a logo, the color or fonts. These are merely cues to remind people about the brand. But they are not the brand itself.
Returning now to the comparison of income and wealth, most businesses arguably should begin using direct response strategies. Meaning, that when starting out, you want to determine as quickly as possible, what types of efforts are yielding the results you want, and which don’t. And then obviously, to do more of the good, and less of the bad. That requires a direct response sensibility.
But to do so without regard for the brand is arguably a recipe for limiting the value of that brand. Why is that important?
The value of a brand is the premium that people are willing to pay for a branded product versus the generic version. Think Apple or Tiffany diamonds. There isn’t objective evidence that either produces better products than their competitors. But there is evidence that people will pay a premium for those products because of what each brand stands for.
And no doubt, the value that a potential acquiror is willing to pay for a known brand absolutely commands a premium. While brand value is tied to a positive impact on business metrics, it isn’t anything physical you can touch. And rarely sits in a specific line of any report.
The fundamental problem is that many direct marketers ignore the concept of a brand and certainly of building one. They are more focused on selling a specific product, getting an offer to work, or scaling a campaign. Some intentionally ignore the longer-term because their business is truly offer-based, and so when one dies, they’ll be on to the next one. For others, the desire to generate revenues, whether early on or after some time, dominates that sense of building for the longer term.
But unfortunately, whichever camp a marketer is in, ignoring the concept of brand comes back to haunt you – the accessibility, preponderance and research of reviews alone can make that sales process so much more difficult.
On the other hand, when a brand is nurtured, the barriers to a sale, and to repeat sales, drop that much more quickly.
In Part 2 of this article, we’ll get into how and where a brand is built.
About the Author
Babak Azad helps performance marketers to scale by identifying hidden profits in their businesses. He is the former SVP of Media & Customer Acquisition at Beachbody. He can be reached at: