The Marketing function does itself a disservice when it bifurcates brand and performance marketing.

Why? Simply because brand matters throughout the purchase funnel, and all marketing needs to perform. Separating brand and performance marketing implies brand doesn’t apply to certain marketing tactics throughout the funnel and suggests not all tactics need to deliver ROI or they won’t deliver a return. These poor definitions also suggest that marketers should live in distinct pillars (i.e., brand marketing or performance marketing) vs. understanding all of the marketing mix across the purchase funnel.

Let’s dig into the first topic, why Brand should be considered across the purchase funnel.

That may be confusing because some think Brand Marketing is only about speaking to a brand’s purpose and mission. Yet, Branding dictates everything a brand does. A Brand Positioning aligns a product’s attributes to functional benefits that ladder to emotional benefits and to an overall purpose or promise. Thus, Brand defines a product’s position in the market, including its pricing and promotional strategy. In the upper funnel, a brand will speak to its purpose, emotional territory, and should start to set memory structures that speak to the gut (i.e., this brand feels right for me). In the middle of the funnel, a brand will speak more to the rational elements and remind the consumer utilizing consistent brand equities.

Defining a Brand includes articulating a personality and tone that will inform all brand communication regardless of where it’s deployed across the purchase funnel. All copy used for a brand should be guided by the same playbook.

Brand also should be used to define ownable visual brand assets and equities that remain consistent in executions across all stages of the funnel. Your brand story needs to hang together. You can’t have two different groups executing different looks.

Ultimately, Brand is a roadmap to all marketing execution.

What Brand elements do you need to put in place to feed your entire marketing funnel?

You need to start by defining your brand positioning, personality, tone, and visual equities. From there, you should have brand and creative guardrails that guide:

  • Positioning, promise, and key messages you want to communicate.

  • What’s on brand and off brand.

  • Visual assets, including ownable key colors, symbols, typography, and so on, to utilize and repeat to maintain consistency.

  • Personality and tone of voice to use in written communication.

  • What words are okay and not okay to use.

  • The promotional strategy that would be in alignment with the brand.

  • The engagement activity and content that is on brand.

Let’s now come back to the second topic, all marketing should lead to results.

Yes, some tactics will have higher ROI’s than others, but tactics work synergistically. Plus, today it’s hard to determine attribution anyway, not that you shouldn’t drive for measurement and clarity. But again, by calling bottom of the funnel “performance marketing” suggests that “brand marketing” doesn’t drive performance. Yet, top of funnel brand marketing can pay dividends at the bottom of the funnel. It serves its purpose of getting the brand into the consideration set. It can serve as a reminder at the moment of purchase. It can have short-term and long-term ROI benefits, as has been historically shown in the CPG industry where long-term effects on sales are equal to or more than the short-term impact.

Even take the fact that some companies admittedly saw sales decline, because they realized they focused too much of their spend on bottom of the funnel activity. For example, Old Navy reported that at the end of 2019 the company lost sales because they had shifted too much of its budget to bottom funnel, promotionally driven activity and did not invest enough in top of funnel brand messaging.

Adidas was similar. The company found that Brand advertising was actually driving 65 percent of its sales across wholesale, retail and eCommerce. Yet at the time, over 75 percent of its spend was put against performance marketing.

Finally, we need to start training marketers who can understand all of marketing.

We’ve past the point of speaking about Digital Marketing vs. other forms of marketing. We need to start integrating all channels across the mix. While certain channels require unique talent, we need to start thinking about training holistic marketers. Vineet Mehra, Global CMO of Walgreens Boots Alliance, articulates this well in an interview speaking to the importance of building “unicorn talent” that brings together digital expertise, brand storytelling, and user experience and design. I might broaden this to say that holistic marketers need to understand brand strategy and how it applies across the entire marketing mix.

To be sure, not everyone will agree with me.

We all bring our point-of-views from our own industries, training, and experiences. Yet, I hold steadfast to my belief that calling parts of the funnel “Brand Marketing” vs. “Performance Marketing” doesn’t accurately reflect how we should think about marketing today. So, what terms do I think we should use instead? I’d suggest simply speaking to Top of Funnel tactics vs. Bottom of Funnel tactics. Or, speak to the specific channels themselves such as Paid Digital or SEO or SEM. And start training people to think more holistically about Brand and how it applies across the entire purchase funnel. Only then do I think you can create the lasting long-term results you seek from branding and marketing—the building of brand equity and the optimizing of marketing effectiveness and efficiency.

This article was first published at The Agency Oneto.