The 2022 Agenda: Breaking down the wall between brand and performance

As we look ahead to 2022, Marketing Week has identified the key opportunities and challenges that will shape marketers’ roles. We are flagging what we think you should be spending your time and money on – and why, but equally it is a commitment from us to focus on these topics next year.

Source: Shutterstock

‘Brand’ and ‘performance’ marketing have to be two of the most misleading terms in the marketing dictionary, implying that brand work doesn’t drive business performance and that performance marketing doesn’t have an impact on the brand. Naturally, neither implication can be true.

Frustrated with the marketing world for creating this “artificial division”, Tom Roach, effectiveness expert and vice-president of brand planning at Jellyfish called for its end earlier this year. “It’s not a split, it’s a balance,” he said.

But this year we’ve seen a rebalancing of brand and performance beginning to take effect, with a range of brands having re-evaluated their understanding of the terms. Discovery, Gousto, Rightmove and Airbnb are just some of the brands to have looked towards brand advertising to deliver performance results this year.

Airbnb noticed at the beginning of the year that cutting its performance marketing spend had no impact on traffic, so instead shifted all that investment into a brand focused campaign. As a result, overall traffic has grown by 15% compared to 2019 in the seven countries where the campaign ran.

Equally, while digital media has typically been viewed as the realm of performance marketing and broadcast as brand, some companies are beginning to look towards digital channels to drive brand growth.

Marks & Spencer and Next are just two brands to have committed to this strategy, with a spokesperson for M&S telling Marketing Week the retailer doesn’t believe there is a choice to be made between driving sales or building brand. Instead, M&S wants to drive trade in a way that builds brand as well.

Some CMOs are also changing how they talk about the functions internally. Since joining online travel agency On The Beach, CMO Zoe Harris has introduced what she calls a “both and” strategy, rather than “either or”, to encourage her team to find messages that deliver for both goals.

Meanwhile, streaming service Discovery+ reached its annual goals in less than three months by uniting brand and performance marketers within the business to produce “one campaign”, with each side of the team using each others learnings to optimise their own work.

But while progress has been made in rebalancing brand and performance, and reframing what the terms mean for a business, there’s still a way to go. While some brands are bringing their marketing specialists together, others still have siloed brand and performance teams, with separate goals and KPIs.

This will never be the optimal way to drive business growth, and it’s likely that more brands will realise this over the coming year. With new challenges on the horizon, from the impact of price inflation to continuing product shortages, building one cohesive marketing strategy will be incredibly important.

So hopefully next year continues this year’s momentum and more marketers open their minds to bringing brand and performance back together. Let’s leave this “artificial division” behind us once and for all.