October 3, 2023

The Synergy of Brand and Performance Marketing

By: Megan Creighton

In the ever-evolving world of marketing, two critical components, brand marketing and performance marketing, work in tandem to propel business success. These two pillars serve distinct yet interdependent purposes, and understanding their synergy is key to mastering effective marketing. In this article, we’ll explore the essence of brand and performance marketing, emphasizing the crucial role of the brand at the top of the marketing funnel, with a particular focus on addressing the research-driven consumer journey.

Brand Marketing: Building the Identity

Brand marketing serves as the cornerstone of a company’s identity. It encompasses a wide range of strategies and activities dedicated to shaping and maintaining a company’s reputation and defining its product characteristics. At its core, brand marketing is about shaping perceptions and fostering brand affinity. While it may not directly lead to immediate customer conversions, brand marketing lays the essential groundwork upon which successful performance marketing initiatives thrive.

A strong brand foundation has several significant benefits, the foremost being the establishment of trust. Trust is the linchpin of any successful business-customer relationship. When consumers encounter a brand with a solid reputation, they are more likely to feel confident in their interactions. This is a crucial aspect of the buying process that often gets overlooked because it’s not very predictable and its impact is difficult to measure. However, marketers who focus on establishing these meaningful points of connection will see the fruits of their efforts, especially considering how the customer journey has shifted over time.

The Empowered Consumer: A Shift in Behavior

Today’s consumers have evolved from passive recipients of marketing messages into proactive researchers who actively seek information to make informed decisions. Empowered by easy access to information across various channels, they conduct their research online through search engines like Google and third-party publications to address their needs and pain points.

This transformation in consumer behavior underscores the evolving nature of the consumer journey. It has become more complex and convoluted due to the proliferation of marketing channels and platforms. Brands are competing for attention and influence on more channels & platforms than ever before. And as a result, consumers are encountering more touchpoints during their decision-making process. They no longer follow a linear path to conversion but explore, research, and deliberate across channels, seeking answers and solutions.

In response to this dynamic landscape, brands face the challenge of establishing an authentic connection with consumers and meeting them where they are–which means delivering the most relevant message where they are already conducting their research.

Consumers have finite time and attention. It’s far more efficient to get in front of consumers where they already spend their time and give their attention rather than trying to shift their behavior. E.g. a contributed article in a newsletter already read by your audience may be Y times more effective than trying to get your audience to read that same article in your brand’s owned newsletter.

For this reason, brands must aspire to be audience-led, reaching consumers on their preferred platforms. This shift in consumer expectations necessitates a corresponding shift in marketing strategies.

Why Brands Need to Show Up at the Top of the Funnel

This audience-led approach requires brands to address consumer questions and pain points early in their research process. Marketers must create content tailored to these inquiries and concerns to reinforce their brand as a credible and valuable resource.

By providing informative blog posts, articles, videos, and other content formats, brands not only capture the attention of potential customers but also guide them toward considering the brand’s products or services as viable solutions. Brands that fail to create content to address these early-stage inquiries risk missing out on valuable opportunities to connect with and influence potential customers.

A great example of a brand that’s doing this well is Embroker. They sell insurance solutions to small businesses, but they are writing content related to cyber risk and accounting risk. These are topics that are indirectly tied to their solutions, but by demonstrating expertise in what matters to their consumers more upstream, they are more likely to be evaluated if a prospect ever does have a need for their solutions.

How Brand Identity Fuels Upstream Content Consumption

And the key to unlocking a strong TOFU content strategy is a strong brand presence. Companies that have a powerful brand identity, characterized by clear values, a compelling mission, and a consistent tone of voice, are better positioned to create content that resonates with potential customers. When consumers encounter content that aligns seamlessly with the brand’s established identity, they experience a sense of reliability and authenticity. This builds the awareness and trust we discussed, and will significantly enhance the reach of top-funnel content.

Moreover, brands that have a clear understanding of who they are are more effective at creating content that is valuable. They leverage owned assets and customer insights to inform content plans and strategies, ensuring that their messaging aligns with their identity and resonates with their target audience. By consistently reflecting their core identity in their content, these brands not only capture the attention of potential customers but also guide them toward considering the brand’s products or services. Brands that fail to maintain a strong and consistent identity risk missing out on valuable opportunities to connect with potential customers during their research-driven journey.

Performance Marketing: An Extension of Brand

Now that we’ve explained why brand marketing is a pivotal component of content strategy, we can better understand how it converges with performance marketing. Down-funnel marketing programs are all about achieving specific, measurable objectives with tangible outcomes. It complements brand marketing by capitalizing on a robust brand presence. When customers encounter a brand they trust during the consideration phase, it significantly influences their purchase decisions.

Performance marketing employs tactics like email marketing, paid search advertising, affiliate marketing, and sponsored ads to generate leads. While it may appear to be the more cost-effective strategy, it heavily relies on a solid brand foundation to position potential customers for conversion. For B2B companies with extended buying cycles, the connection between brand and performance marketing becomes even more critical.

The Key Benefit of Down-Funnel Marketing with Established Brand Awareness

Building on a strong foundation of brand marketing, performance marketing can achieve remarkable results when a brand has already established awareness and trust within its target audience. As discussed, performance marketing operates as an extension of the brand, capitalizing on the recognition gained through brand-building efforts, including their upstream content marketing strategy.

When consumers encounter bottom-funnel marketing initiatives from a trusted brand, they are more inclined to take action, such as making a purchase, signing up for a demo, or downloading a white paper. This preestablished credibility significantly enhances the effectiveness of performance marketing campaigns. Successful performance marketing efforts further cement and extend the value of the brand, creating a flywheel effect where the value compounds.

It’s crucial for marketing leaders to understand how these two strategies work hand in hand to navigate the complexities of the modern marketing landscape and achieve sustained business growth. In conclusion, brand marketing and performance marketing are not isolated strategies but rather two sides of the same coin, and optimizing this dynamic synergy is key to resonating with consumers and driving success.


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