Data signals

Brand to demand: how to avoid overtraining your brand

The importance of the big picture in performance marketing

Did you know that three-quarters of competitive swimmers have suffered from ‘swimmers’ shoulder’? The injury occurs when swimmers over train. By focussing too intently on short-term gains, they often injure their shoulders and hurt their overall ability to perform.

So, what can marketers learn from this?

The marketing industry has been overtraining its brands. One study shows that 70% of marketers feel they have overinvested in performance marketing. They have optimised every aspect of their media, creating the impression of good results because they are so easily measured. They have spent so much time optimising micro-moments of performance that they have neglected to consider what those moments add up to for their brand. This prolonged overtraining has been detrimental to their overall brand equity.

Of course demand marketing is vital to sales and conversion, but not when it is siloed away from other activities. When it is lost in channels and platforms and moved away from the experience of a brand, it starts to increase the cost and decrease the effectiveness of marketing. In swimming terms, if we think that laps and split times are the only things that matter, we forget that we have an entire athletic career to consider.

The bigger picture of brand measurement lies in understanding what contributes to equity, share of voice and awareness – and how all of these factors affect your business. Every investment you make should improve the trajectory of your brand and with it your business results.

When brands lean too much on performance-driven data signals to create audience pools and drive conversion, they lose sight of the overall goal. While short-term sales may be important for a moment in time, the pursuit of them should not have a negative impact on the long-term health of the brand. A 100m freestyle swim may be about how quickly we can get to the wall, but it’s the journey of how we got there – the story, vision and ambition – that ends up making or breaking a brand.

Looking at the bigger picture, performance metrics are indicators of behaviour and how people feel about the brand as much as they are an indicator of rightness – in terms of time, space, person and creative. In swimming terms, we need to understand what a practice swim contributes to our long-term goals, not just how we did in the pool that day.

Salience is the true measure of how your brand and performance marketing are working together. Yes, there are a series of events that drive a consumer to a purchasing decision, but the compound effect of the entire customer journey becomes evident when you step back and look at the big picture. The reason so many brands fail to take flight is that they are focused too intently on the bottom line. Performance should be just one component of a much larger picture.

Performance and brand require a balance; they need to be considered together not separately. If you’re speaking to the same 10 consumers 100 times, is your investment really working for you? Brand investment ensures that performance media works. Studies show brand investment can improve performance media success by as much as 25%.

When you stop nurturing the health of your brand, you risk missing out on the trickle-down effect that occurs across the funnel. It is time to balance brand and media investment correctly and put your agencies to the test. As one of my coaches once said, “harder isn’t always better”. If improvements in your performance seem unachievable, you are probably overtraining and neglecting your brand.

Read more from BrandZ’s Top 40 Most Valuable Canadian Brands 2020 report

Sarah Thompson & Laura Donaldson


published on

23 November 2020



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