Brand Tracking

Manage, track, and grow your brand with always-on, actionable insights.

Marketing Mix Modelling

Monitor and optimise the long and short-term effects of your marketing efforts.

Campaign Evaluation

Measure and track your campaign’s performance before, after, and as it happens.

Blog Posts

Have your cake and eat it: How brand building campaigns can drive both short and long-term sales

April 20, 2023

Business portrait - businessman using laptop computer in office, thinking. Happy middle aged man, entrepreneur working online.

Karen Chandler

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These days, many companies earmark separate budgets for long-term brand building and short-term sales activation. However, here at Nepa we have been seeing an increasing number of examples, both in our own data and other meta studies, that successful brand building creatives can drive short-term sales too.

Consumers care less about what effects a campaign is designed to have, and more that it appeals to their current needs, views and personality  Too much focus on finding the right split between long and short-term benefits could therefore result in less effective campaigns and ultimately lower ROIs. 

More than a decade ago, evidence that most companies are underinvesting in brand building was successfully presented by Binet and Fields in their world-famous IPA paper “The Long and Short of It”, and marketers took note.  The publication suggested companies need to balance their marketing between long-term brand building communication and shorter-term activation marketing, with a suggested average split of 60/40 in favour of longer-term objectives. 

What does the latest research say?

In a recent piece of cross-media research Nepa conducted in conjunction with Meta, the results demonstrated that many channels yielded effects both in the short and long-term.

As seen above, most media types can contribute to both short and long-term effects, especially online video, social media, and display. The effect of long vs short is not only connected to media type but also the creative content in each media. So, this begs the question, can the same communication build both? 

We see similar indications when looking at our data on campaign creatives. It shows ads that perform strongly on brand building KPIs are not only driving long-term effects, but also short-term ones.

A typical objective for brand building communications is to evoke a positive emotional reaction among the audience that can be connected back to the brand. Hence, “ad-liking” is usually seen as an important KPI for measuring brand building effects in ads. On the other hand, “persuasive message” with a “clear call to action” are usually seen as important KPIs for sales activation. 

When we analysed our campaign performance database we can clearly see those campaigns with high emotional liking – the typical objective for brand building campaigns – are not only driving a positive brand perception, but they also trigger call to action effects, like purchases or website visits.  

Based on more than 3,000 campaigns in Nepa’s database classified in levels 0-6 by average liking score from lowest to highest. The green curve shows the change in short-term ad impact compared to the previous level of ad liking.

Campaigns with high “ad-liking” have a significantly higher short-term impact than campaigns with a lower “ad-liking” score. The more an audience likes the creatives, the more inclined they are to act directly.  

In summary, here at Nepa we have found evidence across different sources of data that successful brand building creatives can also help a company to drive short-term sales. Whilst focusing on both long-term brand building and short-term sales is important, we believe that businesses who focuses on creating the most effective messaging for their consumers will reach the perfect balance between long and short.  

Written by Thomas Berthelsen and Robert Beatus, Nepa’s Heads of R&D

Blog Posts

Salience vs. Differentiation: Is being famous enough for a brand to succeed or does differentiation really make the difference?

April 13, 2023

City Hall in Stockholm, Scandinavia, Sweden

Cajsa Wiren

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If you are a follower of the general marketing discourse on LinkedIn, Twitter, or in the marketing media, you’ll notice ongoing debates around supposedly opposing concepts – long-term versus short-term, traditional versus digital media, mass marketing versus targeting, etcetera. Each concept comes with its own dedicated following and active promoters swearing their view of the world is the correct one. A big, seemingly conflicting, topic that has sparked debate in recent years is the issue of salience versus differentiation.

At its core this is a discussion on the best route to brand growth. One side of the argument claims that improving salience, i.e., having a brand that people come to think of in many buying situations, is the only route. This implies that brands should only focus on making sure they are mentally and physically available to consumers in the right buying situations, and that building a differentiated brand position is a waste of time and resources. Team Differentiation, on the other hand, argues that brands need to find a meaningfully different position compared to their competitors or they will lose their relevance in the marketplace. The pendulum has been swinging back and forth on this topic over the years. Not long ago, most brands were focusing all their efforts into creating a differentiated position. However, salience has made a comeback thanks to the highly influential work of Byron Sharp and the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute.

As entertaining as these polarised marketing debates can be, the truth is often that it’s not either/or. We need to consider both the long and the short term, traditional and digital media combined to reach the broadest audiences, etcetera. And the same goes for salience and differentiation. Both are crucial aspects of long-term brand building, but they play different roles in how they contribute to a brand’s growth.

How do Salience and Differentiation add to your brand growth?

Sharp and his colleagues have shown that salience is a key factor for growing volume and revenue via increased penetration and the activation of non-frequent buyers. But solely focusing on salience means ignoring another important benefit of having a strong brand, which is creating pricing power – i.e., that consumers are willing to pay more for your brand compared to competitors. This is where differentiation comes in. Brands that are very salient but lack differentiation against competitors are perceived as generic and can rarely justify charging a higher price for their products or services. On the other hand, a brand that is differentiated from competitors in a way that is meaningful and value adding for consumers can not only charge a price premium, but maintain it over time.

Well known examples of this strategy are Apple and Tesla. Both those companies have been successful in building a unique position as a niche brand, then grow their salience without compromising on their differentiation. This has allowed them to dramatically grow their market share over the years while keeping their price premiums intact. Then there are other brands, like Virgin and IKEA, that have built a unique brand position and then used the higher perceived value from consumers to keep a sustainable growth and expand their brands into other areas.

So, both Team Salience and Team Differentiation are right – salience grows volume and revenue, whilst differentiation builds and maintains pricing power, over time.

To ensure that investments are allocated in the right direction, brands need measurements and KPIs that capture both perspectives. Most brands measure salience in some way, either through brand funnel KPIs in a Brand Tracker or through other measurements such as share of search. A Brand Tracker usually also covers brand associations or attributes. This is an important way to keep track of consumer perceptions and the current competitive landscape. But brand associations should not serve as long-term KPIs of differentiation.

Achieving a differentiated position is a moving target – consumer needs and behaviours change, and a brand’s position needs to be adjusted to maintain differentiation over time. What sets your brand apart from competitors today may be category standard in just a couple of years. Thereby, the brand associations you choose as your main KPIs for differentiation will need to be changed and updated frequently, making them difficult to use as guidance for long-term strategy adjustments. Instead, brands should consider the end-goal of having a differentiated position and use pricing power as a KPI for differentiation.

At Nepa, we have developed a Willingness to Pay (WTP) solution that captures a brand’s pricing power. The solution uses Discrete Choice Modelling (conjoint) to simulate actual choice trade-offs and is a valid method to accurately measure and predict consumers’ willingness to pay for the different competitors in a market. It shows the incremental value that is created by a strong and differentiated brand in a simple, transparent KPI that can not only be quantified in monetary value, but also connected to market share development. Nepa’s Willingness to Pay can be added to our continuous Brand Tracking set-ups, providing brands with the KPIs they need to grow through both salience and differentiation.