Our industry has become dangerously unbalanced. With the constant pressure to deliver immediate financial results and the proliferation of data sources and consumer touchpoints, today’s marketers are focusing on short-term results at the expense of the long-term health of their brands—thereby sabotaging, unintentionally, the sustainability of their organizations.
3 ways a short-term outlook harms your brand
One of the downsides of the proliferation of new consumer touchpoints (and the advertising opportunities they bring) is that people now are routinely bombarded with messaging and information—and it's overwhelming. And that’s precisely why brands and branding still matter so deeply.
When marketers neglect long-term brand building, they open the door to three devastating disconnects.
Loss of long-term market share. To maximize future sales and fill the pipeline, marketers must tap into customers who might not yet be in the market or even be aware of their brands. Reaching beyond an existing niche audience is necessary if you want to “future-proof” your brand and develop the long-term brand value that is crucial to maintaining and growing market share.
Take Monster.com, as an example. The online job search company, once the biggest name in the space, took a decade-long break from brand marketing, choosing instead to focus on lower-funnel “navigational” media and performance metrics. The result? The brand lost saliency with an entire generation of consumers. The company now plans to shift about 20 percent of its budget back to brand building efforts.
Loss of profitability. CMOs and their teams are tasked with achieving tough goals on a quarter-to-quarter, if not day-to-day, basis and are often forced to use campaign-level metrics from attribution tools as the basis for a complete picture of what’s going on with a brand. This results in shortened marketing cycles, where brand leaders are making decisions—about strategy, marketing mix and platforms—based on very short loops.
Adidas, for example, fell into a cycle of increasingly shifting its marketing efforts towards activation and short-term tactics. After consecutive quarters of decline, Adidas realized this strategy was having a material impact on sales and profitability so it focused on rebalancing its efforts towards a 60:40 split between brand building and activation (the ratio famously championed by Les Binet and Peter Field). The company has since experienced growth.
Loss of brand equity. In today’s world, where a negative review is usually only one click away, it’s imperative for brands to shift consumers' mindsets away from research and analysis towards emotional connections and brand stories.
Mattress brand Leesa has been able to distinguish itself within the competitive mattress-in-a-box category through its One-Ten Program: For every 10 mattresses sold, Leesa donates one to a shelter. By focusing on a larger cause, Leesa has bonded with consumers on a deeper level, making the choice of Leesa feel bigger than just a mattress purchase. Such emotional connections help to differentiate the brand within a cluttered category.
Bottom line: If you fail to invest properly in long-term brand building, your consumer connections will not stand the test of time. But by finding the right balance between brand building and short-term tactics, marketers can drive both immediate demand and long-term equity. It’s time to restore that equilibrium within our marketing mixes.