Performance vs Brand Marketing: Which is Best?

In-house marketers: was your recent marketing proposal turned down? You're not alone. Right now, leaders and CFOs are under pressure to deliver greater efficiencies, meaning they're increasingly risk-averse. 

A recent McKinsey survey found that 45% of CFOs who declined a marketing proposal did so because it 'didn't demonstrate a clear line to value.' A further 40% were wary of investing in marketing initiatives during a time of instability. (McKinsey)

Performance marketing is often heralded as a sure-fire way to de-risk marketing spend. Paying only for pre-defined results like clicks, views and reach, performance advertising is now the default online. 

But a focus on performance marketing alone won't help marketers see the results they need. Brand marketing helps customers to engage with a company from an early stage. As many companies now exclusively reach customers through online channels like search and social media, creating a gripping brand is all but essential. 

In this blog, we're exploring the differences between brand and performance marketing and methods to unite them to your advantage.


Performance Marketing vs. Brand Marketing 


Performance marketing is highly data-driven. It deals in insights and how to use them to generate leads and encourage conversions like purchases, sign-ups and subscriptions. 

Brand marketing, on the other hand, is all about how a company is perceived. We think Chameleon Collective puts it well when they describe brand marketing as a means to: 'enhance credibility, prompt an emotional response from the consumer, increase customer loyalty, and motivate buyers.'

Some marketers also associate performance and brand marketing with different timescales, with brand marketing a long-term strategy to influence perceptions over time, and performance marketing a method to drive growth in the short term.  (Latana)


The Benefits of Performance Marketing 


If you're struggling to get the CFO's buy-in, a proposal that incorporates performance marketing can help. 

We like to make a comparison between organic and paid PR. A PR agency can pitch a story until they're blue in the face, but there's no guarantee a journalist will print it. A paid editorial opportunity, however, ensures that, no matter what, the company's story will be covered. 

It's a similar situation with performance marketing. While companies can create beautiful organic content or spend a lot of time developing creative marketing initiatives, there's no guarantee that it will be seen by enough people to encourage a sufficient level of sales. 

Performance marketing, however, is usually a paid strategy that targets a narrow group of customers, using personalised messaging which is optimised for conversation. It can often involve a degree of automation and, crucially, its impact can be measured on a granular level. (McKinsey

That gives your CFO the irrefutable proof of value that they're looking for. 


The Benefits of Brand Marketing 

The rise of performance marketing means that many companies are reaching people who have had no previous interaction with their brand. On Instagram, for example, one in four posts is an ad. (

If you use the app, you've probably been exposed to a new brand that aligns with your interests. Perhaps you've signed up for an affordable razor, bought some craft beers or purchased a new swimsuit as a result of something that has been suggested to you, rather than something you've actively sought out. 

Because people are so frequently exposed to advertising and marketing messages, it will take a lot for them to stop and take notice of your company's offering. That's why, even in the era of performance marketing, strong brand marketing is crucial. 

As Latana explains: "it is so important that your creative efforts, your ad copies, and your landing pages are all brand-aligned." 

The tricky part comes when it's time to demonstrate value. While it's easy to link performance marketing to direct results, the same can't be said for brand marketing. How can you prove that the colour scheme you used caused someone to stop scrolling? How can you demonstrate that the cheeky copy you used caused someone to click?

Of course, this is where A/B testing comes in, but in the short term, it's tricky to link results directly to branding activity.


Balancing Performance and Brand Marketing

You won't be surprised to learn that we're recommending a blend of both performance and brand marketing to achieve strategic goals. 

Creating the right balance involves aligning both activities. In larger organisations, brand and performance marketers operate in distinct teams, whereas in smaller companies, you might find job titles like 'brand manager' and 'PPC expert' working apart from each other. 

Bringing these teams or employees together under the same umbrella will ensure both performance and branding marketing are given due consideration.

NoGood suggests:  "You need to constantly fill the top of your funnel with engaged audiences that are intrigued by your brand then leverage digital to move them along your buying journey. Without filling the top, you are limited in terms of reach and, subsequently, overall performance. 

Here, the top-funnel activity would tend to be the responsibility of brand marketers, whilst middle and bottom-funnel activity would fall under the domain of performance marketers. Working in tandem, marketing teams can ensure that the funnel becomes a fly-wheel that is constantly being replenished. 

McKinsey further recommends a rigorous 'test and learn regime to ensure that new insights based on changes in technologies and consumer behavior are fed into performance-branding programs'. 

Performance marketers can feed insights to brand marketers, who can adjust their approach, allowing performance marketers to enhance their results further, gaining more insights, and so forth.


Content: The Ultimate Uniter

If you're struggling to marry performance marketing with brand marketing, consider what they have in common. 

When it comes to digital marketing, where most marketing activity is now concentrated, both brand and performance marketing use content as their basis.

Enhancing content is therefore in the interest of both performance and branding marketers. 

Clark Boyd suggests making performance-influenced decisions to inform content and visuals. By assessing what is getting the most engagement, and what content is most effectively driving sales, performance marketers can feed further recommendations to the branding team.

A focus on quality is necessary here. While it's relatively straightforward to reach target customers online, less easy is attracting and holding their interest. That's where brand marketers come to the forefront; by delivering quality copy, visuals and more, they can help to deliver conversion-friendly content.


Next Steps

Want an outside perspective on your current marketing activity? Arrange a commitment-free discovery call with the Moment team.