Don't Bother With Brand Marketing It Offers Poor Returns, Even For Companies That Can Afford It
Brand marketing is a holdout from the Golden Era (1950’s) Ogilvy days, that the Internet and buyer-driven marketing is putting on the chopping block.
By ‘brand marketing’ we mean:
- ‘Demand generation’. You can’t generate demand. It’s a stupid and condescending notion;
- Awareness campaigns (versus direct response or content offers);
- Marketing that is touts your company;
- Marketing that often leverages broadcast channels, but not always;
- Marketing the identity of a company, rather than the usefulness of a product or products, services, access or experience they actually sell.
Brand marketing made sense in a time when there were three appliance or vehicle manufacturers; when user-generated content didn’t expose the true nature of your company, and when buyers could not conduct meaningful research.
This was when ‘Maytag’ or ‘Ford’ meant something. Today, people research and purchase products; they want to get directly to a solution as quickly as possible, with as little ‘noise’ as possible.
There are a few reasons brand marketing is dead or dying:
- Most of what’s said about your product or brand comes from third-party, user-generated, content. Nobody believes what you say about your products much less your brand.
- The brand is the ‘container’, not the package (the product). People are busy and a brand or label amounts to just more rhetoric to consider.
- They brands aren’t ‘labels’ or ‘containers’, they are products, so there’s no need to spend money marketing the brand at the expense of marketing the product.
- Talking about yourself in a positive light is unappealing. The public gets to decide what you are, through review sites and user-generated content. Nobody cares what you think of yourself.
- Marketing needs to produce results, and brand marketing a) produces low-yield when you can track it, and b) has an impact that’s difficult to track.
- Digital (PPC) marketing costs have risen, and the ROI on focusing on brand/awareness is not there.
- It’s hard to link the brand to a product they make. It’s costly.
- Reputations are a la carte and granular: whatever connection you can make in people’s heads between a brand and a product doesn’t matter next to how the product – the actual thing they need and can use – is viewed. There is little lasting benefit to a crummy product from Apple being associated with Apple.
- whatever connection you can make in people’s heads between a brand and a product will be ignored/forgotten in light of information consumers find, that was published by people who are not you. Consumers know you are biased.
- The whole point of a brand is to keep product or service awareness top-of-mind when people are in-between purchases, or considering. That’s incredibly costly, a), and b) unnecessary, because of the buyer-driven Buyer’s Journey and the ability to capture and nurture leads with any CRM.
The reputation of your company has never been more closely linked to the actual quality you offer. You can’t sell people on the brand of Dow Chemicals if you’re poisoning people. Not anymore.
Brands are appendages in that they are no longer a reliable index to quality. The ‘whole brand represents quality’ notion is no longer alive in consumer minds, because it’s not true, and we can discover when it’s not true, easily.
Customers shop for solutions, not the company reputation or hype around that solution, and they are more informed than ever. Consumers will buy a great product from a ‘bad’ brand; and a brand with a ‘good’ reputation will have problems selling a crappy product.
It’s not 1955 anymore.
Brand marketing is really founded on the premise that buyers can be told who to like, and what to think. That’s not true anymore. The reputation of your company has never been more closely linked to the actual quality you offer. You can’t sell people on the brand of Dow Chemicals if you’re poisoning people. Not anymore.