There’s no vs. between brand and performance marketing


At a panel entitled “Brand vs. Performance,” the brand marketing, performance marketing and “versus” portions of that thesis were all up for debate.

As SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment chief marketing and communications officer Marisa Thalberg told ADWEEK community editor Luz Corona during the Outlook 2024 event, “versus” presents short-term sales—”performance”—and long-term brand building as not only exclusive, but at odds with each other. 

​”We are essentially implying that whatever is on the other side of the equation is what? Not performance,” Thalberg said. “If you’re a CFO (chief financial officer), which are you inclined toward? We’ve created a false choice that is really creating tremendous headwinds for us as marketers.”

Thalberg and others on the panel advocate for a “brand and performance” approach that’s gained momentum among marketers in recent years. With 50% of marketers telling LinkedIn that they want to run brand and demand campaigns together, the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising recommends allocating 60% of marketing budget to brand and 40% to demand. 

In the age we are all in, consumer psychology and platform mastery are the keys to brand success.

Divya Gururaj, global chief client officer of Brainlabs

But the brand also has to extend beyond building awareness. Thalberg said it has to speak to a brand’s salience and relevance in a consumer’s life: They may know your brand, but do they know what you’re about? That’s the issue that Natalie Sunderland faces as CMO of BNY Mellon, a 240-year-old institution that would love a cameo on HBO’s The Gilded Age—but also wouldn’t mind people identifying it as a modern financial services platform.

“We are the oldest bank in America and the oldest company in New York City, but people don’t really know who we are, and if they do know who we are, they might have a bit of an outdated perception of us,” she said. “I need to shift perception so that our clients recognize that we are solving not just yesterday’s problems, but today’s and tomorrow’s problems.”

This requires a blend of brand and performance marketing as subtle as adding dashes of yellow, pink and purple to the drab designs of the legacy banking sector and as urgent as building a full social media personality and touting BNY Mellon’s 240th-anniversary events.

As noted by Divya Gururaj, global chief client officer of Brainlabs, the modern marketplace requires “brand building with a performance mindset and performance with a brand-building mindset.”

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