Now, more than ever before, consumers are choosing brands whose messaging, marketing and values go beyond the product, and speak straight to the heart. In fact, 71 percent of consumers consider brand trustworthiness and identity to be major influencers on purchase decisions. This significant shift has prompted marketers to take a good hard look at priorities and focus more on building brand equity to drive marketing success.
As more companies embrace this change and invest in brand marketing over product marketing, we’ve reached a crucial turning point that separates successful marketing strategies from missed opportunities.
Let’s explore why brand initiatives are so influential, how marketers can measure branding impact and what to look for to ensure that measurement is accurate and effective.
Why Are Brand Initiatives Trending?
Today, both consumer expectations and the value they place on product and brand attributes are far from simple. Consumers no longer just want quality products and competitive pricing — they want a connection between their unique needs, interests, style and the brand. The ability to cut through the clutter with advertising that truly resonates is what grabs consumer attention and sets the winners apart.
Simply put, conveying brand identity in marketing and advertising effectively ties emotions into the buying cycle. Businesses that focus on brand individuality over products and services spark connections with consumers on an emotional level. Products may come and go, but emotions like trust, joy and exclusivity stay with the brand, no matter what.
Once consumers associate a brand with a positive emotion, loyalty and engagement increases. In fact, studies show that consumers rely more heavily on emotions than product and price when choosing between brands. Given the complexity of today’s omnichannel customer journey, emotional brand association and the benefits it provides can make all the difference in keeping consumers engaged across the buying cycle.
What Does Good Brand Over Product Messaging Look Like?
The power of an established and emotionally-connected brand is clear and measurable. Here are a few examples of brand marketing that works:
Volkswagen: Super Bowl XLV Commercial
Arguably one of the most successful Super Bowl commercials in the past decade, “The Force” ad by Volkswagen is a perfect example of focusing advertising on the relationship between a brand and emotion. With a 30 second run-time and a $3 million price tag, the ad aimed to raise awareness ahead of the the VW Passat’s U.S. market release in 2012. What makes this ad so interesting is that there are no mentions of price, features or capabilities.
Instead, the commercial followed a young child dressed as Darth Vader, who used “the force” to start the car. The goal of the campaign? To establish an emotion that consumers could harken back to once the car entered the market. The results speak volumes. Within a day of the Super Bowl, “The Force” generated 2 million views and went on to be the most shared ad of all time.
Nike’s “Just Do It” Campaign
The strongest brands are instantly recognizable, and Nike’s infamous “Just Do It” campaign is one of the best. The strength of these three simple words have propelled Nike products and motivated a population far beyond the target audience. “Just Do It” captures the essence of the athletic nature of Nike products, as well as the way people feel while exercising.
The campaign speaks little to the quality of Nike products, pricing or benefits to the athlete. It does however, is speak to the emotions of Nike’s target audience, aligning the brand with consumers that are most likely to purchase. At the start of the campaign in 1988, Nike generated $800 million in sales. A decade later, sales exceeded $9.8 billion.
How Can Marketers Measure the Impact of Brand Over Product Initiatives?
Of course, the first step in measuring influence is understanding what is working and what is failing. This requires a good mix of continuous brand value measurement and brand marketing management. To succeed, marketers need to master the measurement and evaluation techniques specific to brand impact. Luckily, there’s plenty of data available. But putting it all together in a way that accurately, effectively measures the impact of brand tracking over product initiatives requires a few simple but important steps:
Define Your Goals
Brand measurement by nature is long-term — spanning weeks, months and even years of aggregate measurement. In order to fully understand the impact of brand on marketing efforts, brand-related goals must be identified first, whether the goals are aimed at:
- Influencing consumer perception to enable future sales
- Shortening the sales cycle for a specific product or service
- Affecting consumers directly or indirectly
Once marketers have identified the overarching goals, the next step is to outline the metrics needed to develop accurate insights into ad performance.
Identify the Brand Metrics Needed for Impact Measurement
When looking at brand-related advertising metrics, marketers must identify how an ad impacts the business, how it affects the consumer — or a combination of both.
From here, marketers can identify metrics that deliver the insights needed to successfully gauge the impact of brand over product initiatives. For instance, brand ads that focus on steering consumers toward shorter sales cycles may want to focus on business-centric, direct metrics like purchase intent, referral traffic and social data, coupled with traditional sales metrics such as online and offline revenue during a set period of time.
Once metrics align with both branding and impact goals, marketers can leverage a high-quality marketing analytics platform to develop the models to accurately measure impact.
Formulate the Appropriate Measurement Models
Brand measurement puts marketers in a tricky situation. Because brand-related benefits are not immediately apparent, it’s essential for marketers to have dedicated brand measurement models that can accurately collect, analyze and distill the aggregate data based on the metrics being analyzed.
One of the pitfalls preventing marketers from accurately understanding brand impact in both advertisement and campaign settings happens when short-term measurements are prioritized and long-term measurements de-emphasized. In fact, a Harvard Business Review study, titled, “If Brands Are Built Over Years, Why Are They Managed Over Quarters?" states that short-term focus lacks the appropriate insights for brand measurement and explains why neglecting branding in favor of short-term initiatives can have a negative impact on ROI.
What’s the solution? Successful brand measurement is dependent on models capable of unified marketing measurement (UMM) and long-term data correlation. With the ability to gather datasets from across online and offline channels, marketers can align data and distill it into insights that indicate a brand-oriented ad’s influence on specific marketing goals.
With long-term modeling in place, this distilled data can then highlight where, when and how each branded ad performed, while effectively measuring its impact across online and offline touchpoints. For measuring our aforementioned goal, UMM and long-term modeling can generate insights into the impact of brand advertisement on shortening sales cycles.
Considerations When Implementing Brand-Oriented Initiatives
Every marketer wants to get the most from brand initiatives using solid measurement techniques that ensure effectiveness. Here’s some food for thought to help inform the process:
Considerations for Brand Initiatives:
- What is the current perception of the brand?
- How will brand-focused ads and campaign initiatives strengthen the brand?
- What messaging, emotions and interests are most likely to resonate with the target audience?
- What channels and touchpoints will generate the highest engagement rates?
- Are brand initiative goals identified?
Considerations for Brand Impact Measurement:
- Is brand impact being measured as a whole, or related to a specific initiative?
- What’s the timeline for measuring brand impact?
- Do the metrics being measured align with branding goals?
- Can measurements from offline and online channels be unified for accurate omnichannel measurement?
As consumers continue to hold brands to a higher standard, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to not only grab consumer attention, but also maintain that attention across the buyer journey. That’s why marketers are now focusing on brand over product initiatives. Indeed, using people-based marketing to establish connections with consumers on a more personal, emotional level has proven to increase ROI. And while it’s no easy task to accurately measure the effectiveness of brand-oriented initiatives and impact on ROI, getting it right can make a world of difference. It all starts with clear goals, accurate data, strong marketing analytics capabilities and unified marketing measurement.