It just happened again. I met with a prospect to discuss a campaign. Their focus was on immediate sales generated, and how we could create enough interest with the creative we would eventually propose. My questions turned to brand, and they wanted to ignore the subject. Like so many clients, they had gotten it into their heads, that your ad could either sell or exist for branding. Not both. Where did this silly notion originate?
All ads are branding ads, whether you like it or not, so you are better off defining your brand for your audience, rather than leaving them to come to their own conclusion based on a disjointed series of communications.
It doesn’t matter if you consciously develop your brand or not. You’ll end up with a brand anyway. Same with your personality. It doesn’t matter if you work on your personality or not, you will have a personality anyway. People will perceive of you what they perceive based on anticipation, experience, appearance, reputation, etc. You will be better off trying to give a good impression, and developing a good reputation than ignoring the power of perception and making no effort to put a consistent and meaningful reputation together for yourself.
It is the same with your brand. People will develop a perception of your brand based on what they encounter, even if they encounter very little that makes sense. If they see ads that sometimes look racy and irreverent, and at other times are family friendly and conservative, they will be confused as to what you sincerely represent. But if your message is consistent, even if they never buy your product, at least they will understand who you are best for. If it happens to be them, they will give you a serious look when they are shopping for your product.
But every ad is a branding ad. It is an important element of every single communication you have with your audience. From cancellation notices, to recalls, to billboards. They all add up to a perception in the mind of your audience. What is most important, is that it takes time to ingrain your brand into the minds of your audience. It can’t happen overnight.