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Brand or performance marketing: What if you could have both?


It’s one of the greatest marketing dilemmas there is. How much should you spend on brand vs performance. The temptation for start-ups is to pile in to performance for a quick return, but is that truly sustainable in the long run? Anyone can buy a sale – it’s just at what cost. To quote Sir Alan Sugar on a recent episode of The Apprentice: “we can all sell £10 for a fiver!”

Building a brand takes time and investment because it requires marketers to establish a deep and profound relationship with customers. We’ve all seen stats which highlight the benefits associated with brand building, but here’s some of my favourite recent studies:

  • 71% of consumers prefer buying from companies aligned with their values (5W Public Relations)
  • 7 in 10 customers will buy more from brands they trust (Adobe)
  • Over 50% of customers will buy from a brand with a strong personality (Adzooma)

So if the alignment of values, trust building, and developing a strong brand personality take time, money and effort, why don’t you just run performance campaigns?

What is performance marketing?

Performance marketing is where advertisers pay marketing companies or advertising platforms for results achieved, such as clicks or conversions.

Performance marketing campaigns are geared towards driving actions, which are tracked and measured, then attributing the return on investment of each asset, campaign, or activity.

As the advertiser, you determine the action, then pay when that action has been completed – whether it’s a sale, lead, engagement, or click.


Does brand building still matter?

Once you’ve seen some results from performance marketing, there might be a temptation to park brand building efforts. But performance and brand marketing can, and should, complement each other.

A stronger brand will see greater results from its performance marketing campaigns, while strong performance marketing campaigns can also help to build a brand. 

Writing for WARC, Performance Marketer Michael Lorenzos distils why the two should work in tandem: “People buy from brands, and performance advertising is one of the marketing activities that enable a brand to reach and engage with their audience. The truth is, a brand drives performance and performance marketing informs brand perception.”

As the stats at the start of the blog show, branding is still key to the long term success of a brand. But performance marketing – as well as driving short-term results – allows you to discover whether you’re building a brand that connects with your target audience.

Or as Lorenzos puts it, the “learnings from your performance marketing campaigns [help you] to fool-proof your investment” in brand building.

What if you could do both in the same campaign?

Branded content is where performance marketing and brand marketing intersect. With UK adults spending up to a quarter of their waking day on the internet, online branded content has become ever more important for both awareness and conversion – the days of buying purely offline media for brand are gone.

Online branded content leverages the credibility of trusted editorial environments and is delivered in an entertaining, informative and engaging way, so that consumers are happy to view and share it of their own volition.

The best online branded content is optimised for on-site actions, to achieve those desired performance outcomes. But it’s also written to encourage readers to engage and spend time with your brand.

For further reading on how to make the most of your branded content, check out our blog on the 2022 branded content trends.