Villing & Company

Is branding still relevant in a digital marketing world?

Before we learned what a marketing funnel was, there was a simple acronym AIDA.


No matter how many ways we repackage the marketing funnel process; these four letters still speak to the essential steps required for effective marketing.

I raise this point because in today’s ROI-obsessed world, it is tempting to focus all of one’s efforts on Desire and Action and lose sight of the requisite Attention and Interest. As a result, some people would suggest that branding, which helps drive Attention and Interest, is no longer relevant in contemporary marketing. 

They would be wrong.

Exhibit A is a compelling ad I have shared in the past, an ad as relevant today as it was when McGraw Hill created it in the 1950s. 


Bottom line: people can’t buy a product or service they don’t know about, or have been given a reason to believe that it will fill a certain want or need.

Exhibit B is this chart I recently discovered. It divides marketing spending by media into two categories: Call-to-action and Brand building. Take a close look at the numbers for each medium in both categories.


In particular, note the numbers for “Digital” and “TV”. If you do the math, $54 billion of the $59 billion (93 percent) spent on digital marketing is used to stimulate a call-to-action. By contrast, 80 percent of TV dollars ($55 billion out of $69 billion) are used for brand building (creating attention and interest).

This is as it should be. Branding and Call-to-Action marketing are distinctly different strategies, requiring specific executions. To approach them otherwise is to compare apples and oranges. The problem comes in the fact that it is much more difficult to measure brand building than it is call-to-action. As a result, many marketers are seduced by the siren call of statistics rather than the romance necessary to create those essential first sparks of interest.

Effective marketing requires the proper blend of ingredients. I guess you could say it’s a matter of chemistry.

Filed Under: Branding, ROI

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