The battle between direct and brand is age old. On one side you have solid metrics and clear profitability. On the other you have looser metrics, but high emotional value that can swing sales your way for decades. Each has value in the marketing chain. But they remain like oil and water.
Direct adherents are so ruled by theeffectiveness
of the program that they will often myopically ignore long-term value in exchange for immediate gain. Meanwhile, brand adherents will feverishly resist the bastardization of the image effort and will willingly leave sales opportunity on the table in exchange for memorability and good will with the customer.
Then along came digital.
I'm reading a fascinating white paper from Ad Age Insights called Building Brands Online. The paper itself is an amalgam of many of the stories and stats we've covered ourselves over the last year here on The BeanCast. However, seeing it all together in one place is crystallizing a vision for both the need to blend the disciplines of direct and brand in our planning and what that would look like.
If we've learned one thing from the last 15 years of marketing in the digital space, it's that interaction is branding. The quality of a customer experience can dramatically alter perceptions and receptivity of both brand and sales messaging. So understanding how to create a desired action and memorable experience is essential to branding in the digital world — and direct provides the essential toolbox for doing this.
I won't try to recreate the entirety of the whitepaper. I'll let you form your own opinions. But it is interesting to me that the digital tactics we get most excited about these days (Blendtec, the Old Spice guy, etc.) are examples of branding married to interaction and response. And the agencies and marketers who understand this will clearly dominate the next decade.