How Brand Building and Performance Marketing Can Work Together

How Brand Building and Performance Marketing Can Work Together

In the last 20 years, lots of companies have started using something called performance marketing to reach out to customers. Performance marketing means paying for the results you get from your marketing efforts, like when people buy something, sign up for something, or click on an ad. Companies do this through other places, like sending mail, using search engines, or being on social media. It’s a popular way to do marketing because it lets companies aim their ads directly at the people who are most likely to buy their stuff, and they can see if it’s working or not. This helps solve a big problem in advertising where people don’t always know if their ads are helping sell things.

Many business leaders are worried that performance marketing is taking over and leaving less room for activities that build up a brand. These activities include things like making unique packaging, coming up with new products, offering special services, finding new ways to sell, and making creative ads. Some CEOs have even said things like, “We’re good at performance marketing, but our brand isn’t strong.” Others from big companies have mentioned that performance marketing has become so important that they’ve lost focus on telling the story of their brand. In a survey done at a big marketing event, twice as many executives were concerned about balancing brand-building and performance marketing compared to other issues like hiring the right talent for the future or adapting to new online spaces.

Pitting brand building and performance marketing against each other in a competition for budget unnecessarily damages the effectiveness of both.

In the past, people thought you had to choose between building a brand for the long term and making money right away with performance marketing. They tried to find a balance between the two. But lately, brand building is getting less attention because performance marketing is seen as bringing in more immediate results that can be measured.

We think it’s not a good idea to pit brand building against performance marketing. Doing so hurts both of them. Instead, we suggest a different approach. We propose creating measurements that show how both brand building and performance marketing affect the overall value of a brand. These measurements would be linked to specific financial outcomes like sales, company value, and return on investment. They would be used to track the success of both types of marketing investments.

By using better measurements for their brand, companies can make smarter choices about where to put their money when it comes to building their brand and doing performance marketing. This helps make both strategies stronger and work together more effectively. To show how this works, we’ll look at three companies—airlines, fast-food chains, and winemakers—and see how they’ve used this approach.

If companies want more performance-accountable brand building and brand-accountable performance marketing, they need to upgrade their brand metrics. Here’s how.

1. Create and connect brand-positioning and activation metrics.

connect brand-positioning and activation metrics

The foundation of building a brand is its positioning. This is what determines how well it can compete in the market. Successful brands quickly show what makes them special, who they’re for, and why that matters. This helps them attract customers, charge higher prices, avoid being seen as just like everyone else, and keep making money over time.

When your company is figuring out how to position its brand, there are four main things to think about:

  • Purpose: This is about showing your company’s long-term commitment to things other than just making money, like being inclusive, caring about the environment, supporting good causes, or valuing certain cultural ideas.
  • Emotional qualities: These are the feelings you want people to have when they think about your brand, like feeling confident, stylish, or hip.
  • Functional benefits: These are the real, practical things about your product that make it stand out, like its quality, design, or the different options it offers.
  • Experiential qualities: These are the less tangible things about your brand that still matter a lot, like how consistent it is, how easy it is to use, or how knowledgeable your staff are.

2. Create a composite metric of brand equity

Create a composite metric of brand equity

The main aim of deciding how to position your brand and doing activities to make it known is to make your brand more valuable. Companies use all sorts of ways to measure how valuable their brand is, but we suggest looking at four main things:

  • Familiarity: How well people feel they know and understand your brand, not just that they know it exists.
  • Regard: How much people like and respect your brand.
  • Meaning: How relevant your brand feels to people’s lives.
  • Uniqueness: How different your brand seems compared to others.

We suggest looking at these four things because they’re what make people feel strong emotions toward a brand, like love, loyalty, or dislike. Studies show that these emotions are super important in how people decide what to buy. They affect everything from how much people use a product to how much they’re willing to pay for it, and even if they recommend it to others. For companies, having a strong brand can mean they can offer new stuff or go into new markets. This is true not only for regular consumers but also in business-to-business markets where things are always changing with new technology and in industries like professional promotional product services where the brand’s reputation is a big deal.

3. Make brand equity a KPI for performance marketers

Make brand equity a KPI for performance marketers

At many companies, performance marketing focuses only on making sales without thinking about how it affects the brand. Companies need to keep an eye on both their brand’s reputation and how well their performance marketing is working.

If sales are going up but people’s opinions of the brand are going down, the company needs to figure out why. It could be because the ads they’re using aren’t good or because the way they’re reaching out to customers isn’t working well. They need to look into it and make changes if needed.

On the other hand, if people are starting to like the brand more but sales are going down, that’s also a problem. It could mean that their marketing strategies aren’t connecting with customers in the right way.

4. Establish your brand’s link to revenue and shareholder value

You might think that your measurements already show how your brand and finances are connected, especially if you’ve been using them for a while. But from what we’ve seen, people tend to trust their own measurements more than others, and sometimes we’re too lenient with them.

The last step in our plan is to connect these measurements to how much money your brand is making—like sales, company value, and how much you’re getting back from what you put in. There are ways to use math to figure out how much a certain branding or marketing move will likely affect your finances.

You should do this for each brand you have because they’re all different. The connection between how you position your brand, how you promote it, how valuable people think it is, and how much money it makes will be unique for each brand. It’s a good idea to have experts double-check these connections, like financial advisors and marketing experts who specialize in analyzing data.


On the flip side, here’s our last point: Your current way of measuring performance marketing might not be as accurate as you think. Common measurements often don’t show the true value of performance marketing that helps build brand reputation, while they may make campaigns that harm brand reputation seem more successful than they really are. The method we’ve talked about for measuring brands fixes this by using one main measurement that shows how both brand-building and performance marketing are doing, and how they connect to your finances in the short and long term. For more insights on optimizing your marketing strategies, visit