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Brand to demand

Brand to demand

The importance of the big picture

Sarah Thompson

CSO, Canada


Laura Donaldson

Director of Marketing Sciences, Canada


Did you know that three-quarters of competitive swimmers have suffered from “swimmers’ shoulder”? It happens when they over train and injure their shoulders. By focusing too intently on short term gains, they hurt their overall ability to perform.

Why does this matter to marketers? We have been overtraining our brands. By one study, 70 percent of marketers feel they have over-invested in performance marketing. They have optimized every aspect of their media, creating the impression of good results because they are so easily measured. They have spent so much time optimizing micro-moments of performance that they have neglected how all those moments add up a larger consideration of their brands. This prolonged overtraining has been detrimental to their overall brand equity.

Of course, demand marketing is vital to sales and conversion, but not when it is siloed away from other activities. When it is lost in channels and platforms and moved away from the experience of a brand, it starts to increase the cost and decrease the effectiveness of marketing. In swimming terms, if we think that laps and split times are the only things that matter, we forget that we have an entire athletic career to consider.

The bigger picture of brand measurement lies in understanding what contributes to equity, share of voice, and awareness — and how all of that affects your business. Every investment you make should improve the trajectory of your brand and with it your business.

When brands lean too much into performance-driven data signals to create audience pools and drive conversion, they lose sight of the overall goal. While short-term sales may be important for a moment in time, overall the pursuit of them should not have a negative impact on long-term brand health. A 100m freestyle swim may be about how quickly we can get to the wall, but it’s the journey of how we got there (the story, vision, and ambition) that ends up making or breaking a brand.  

In this big picture journey, performance metrics are indicators of behavior and how people feel about the brand as much as an indicator of rightness – time, space, person, and creative. Let’s put them into the context of the big picture. In swimming terms, we need to understand what a practice swim contributes to our long-term goals, not just how we did in the pool that day.

Salience is the true measure of how your brand and performance marketing are working together. Yes, there is a series of events that drives a consumer to a purchasing decision, but the compound effect of the entire customer journey becomes evident when you step back and look at the big picture. The reason so many brands fail to take flight is that they are focused too intently on the bottom line. Performance is just one component of the larger picture.

Performance and brand require a balance; they need to be considered together not separately. If you’re speaking to the same 10 consumers 100 times, are your dollars really working for you? Brand investment ensures that performance media works. Studies show brand investment can improve performance media performance as much as 25 percent.

When you stop nurturing the health of your brand, you miss out on the trickle-down effect that occurs across the funnel. It is time to balance brand and media investment correctly and put your agencies to the test. As one of my coaches once said, “harder isn’t always better.” If improvements in your performance seem to difficult – you are probably overtraining and neglecting your brand.