Crafting Successful Brand-Building Campaigns

Carolyn Walker

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*PS. Below you will find an auto-generated transcript of this episode.

Arek Dvornechuck: Hey what's up, branding experts. Arek here at Ebaqesign. Welcome to On Branding Podcast. And today my guest is Carolyn Walker. And Carolyn is the CEO and Managing Partner of Response, which is an award winning independent marketing agency. So Carolyn worked with top brands such as Logitech, McCafe, Office Depot, Tylenol, AWS, and many more. Hello, Carolyn. Thanks for joining us today.

Carolyn Walker: Hi, thanks for having me. Nice to meet you.

Arek Dvornechuck: Nice to meet you as well. I really like your work. But just to explain to our listeners, you are working at the intersection of branding, digital marketing and advertising campaigns, right? Perhaps we can talk about the subject of brand building in general. So can we start with a simple question? Can you explain to our listeners, what's the difference between brand building and performance marketing,

Carolyn Walker: Yeah, sure. It's a great question. But generally speaking brand building and brand marketing is more about branding and marketing for the long term. It's efforts that have lasting effects. They endure for the long run and help customers or consumers, keep your brand in mind in their consideration set as they are likely out of market. And, the whole act of brand marketing is really to build a positive brand equity in terms of not just awareness, but, brand salience and brand love, trying to, get your customers or potential customers and consumers to, understand your brand meaning and purpose and build that brand equity.

And not only, it is more of a long term thing, but it can have very much in effect on short term as well, especially if it's done really well, you can affect short term sales and long term growth and typically brand building is typically more emotional, on the emotional side versus rational side. And again, if it's done well, some of the effects are, you can have more power in your pricing because if customers or potential customers really love you or like you, it's less about price and more about, this kind of relationship and emotional connection. You're getting with the brand. 

So that's the brand building side. The brand performance marketing side is much more short term oriented. It is about getting a customer or consumer to take an action, so you're really trying to get those people who are in the market to buy or try or engage with you. They're two very different things. It tends to be on the performance marketing side. Also, more rational, you have an offer or a limited time offer or some kind of discount or some kind of thing that you're really trying to get them to take advantage of at the moment. You know, They're in-market buyers, right?

Arek Dvornechuck: RIght. That's a great distinction, by the way. So just to sum up, brand building is about the long term. It's more about, it's emotional and marketing is more about the short term, getting customers to take an action now. And it's more rational, right? But those things work together. We have to do both in order to take care of our branding and marketing.

Carolyn Walker: Yeah, absolutely. Just to add to that. They do work together and it's not about 1 or the other. It's about what's the balance of both. And I also want to make a distinction to, like I said, when we're talking about brand building. Good brand building can have a short term impact as well. So it's not that brand building doesn't have a performance component to it and the opposite is true too, right? With performance marketing. It's not that it doesn't have an effect on brand. It absolutely does. And so we as branding folks and marketing folks have to keep all these things in mind as we are using both to build the business.

Arek Dvornechuck: Right. How about this scenario? How about this? Because I see many entrepreneurs and especially smaller brands or medium sized brands. They try to, like, put all their money into marketing and focus on the marketing without actually having, spend enough time and resources on brand building, right? On proper branding, whether it is strategy and design, right? Can you just talk to us about it? Can marketing really save brands that are failing, that they are not properly defined, that they haven't built that strong brand just yet and they just focus on marketing to make sales right now and bring the revenue in.

Carolyn Walker: Yeah, my philosophy and feeling is that marketing cannot save brands that are failing. And the reason why is that, you have to have a strong brand to market, right? So if you don't have a strong product or service and you don't have strong operations in terms of. Bringing that product or service to market and executing on that product and service, one of the industries we work a lot in is restaurants. And if a restaurant isn't delivering to their guests in a great way. Then you can put all the marketing you want into the world and it's not going to change that guest experience. And so if the guest experience is bad, then you're wasting your money on marketing.

It's not going to save that, right? You've got to get the basics, right? You have to have a strong product and service. You have to have strong operations. You have to know what the brand stands for, what's your why and how you're positioning it. And then you layer on great marketing and you can have success and, we've got a couple of really great examples of that in our own agency. We did this amazing campaign for McAfee and as you can imagine with McAfee, customers or consumers. We worked on the B2C side for them. As marketers of their brand the challenge is that there's so much apathy for security software. They want to put it on their machine, set it, forget it, and move on. They don't really want to think about it. But what we knew was that, the best line of defense in any kind of situation when it comes to cyber security or computer security. Is knowledge is education, but the consumer's apathetic. So, what's the solve for that? And we tried lots of things over the years. We did a lot of things that were funny and engaging and educational. And we had this idea back in 2017-2018 to create a branded podcast around cybersecurity. And it was a really novel idea at the time. There weren't that many brands getting into the podcasting space. And we did it in such a way that we used incredible creative bravery, meaning that we didn't do something that was conventional. We did something very unconventional by using this 30-minute show essentially to first take hacks in pop culture that we were seeing on, Mr. Robot or CSI cyber, or in the news and recreating them in the audio space. Then bringing in white hat hackers to say, is this something we really should be worried about? And then giving the audience tips and tricks. And it was super, super entertaining. So we made it entertaining first and we saw incredible results. And in fact, incredible results in that people's perception of the brand improved dramatically just by listening to the episodes of Hackable. So, there are things like that when they're done right and executed right, can really help build the brand. And McAfee, by the way, even though it's a great brand, it's a great product, they had the basics in place. So that when we added this component on, it really just had a massive effect.

Arek Dvornechuck: I see, I see. No, it's great, it's a great example. Perhaps and I'm glad you brought this up. And perhaps can you share with us maybe some more examples of, perhaps can you speak to us about some of the challenges that your clients come to you with and how you dealt with those challenges so that we can understand, how to run marketing campaigns and how those things work together and how to build stronger brands. And how those things like, correlate. 

Carolyn Walker: Yeah. I have another great one, actually. Like I said, we work a lot in food and beverage space, specifically with restaurants. One of our restaurant clients was Uncle Julio's. They're based out of Dallas, Texas. They have 40 or so locations across the country. And when we started working with them they were really heavily invested in radio as a marketing vehicle or media vehicle. And a couple of years into our relationship, they had developed this really extraordinary product. And the product is called the chocolate pinata, and this is this handmade ball of dark chocolate stuffed with churros and fresh fruit and it comes out on this huge platter. It's suspended on a small ware and a huge platter and the guests get a mallet and they literally smash it open and it's just delightful. The whole thing is delightful. It tastes great. It's so fun and interactive. People went crazy over this thing. And so they shared the dessert idea with us, which we thought was incredibly on brand because Uncle Julio's positioning was all about creating memories from scratch, Mexican memories from scratch. And the table side experience was part of delivering a memory, right? So this thing is delivered table side. It's handmade. It's all made from scratch. It was completely so the product was on brand. And, like I said, they were really heavily invested in radio and we said to them, this is something that needs to be seen, not heard and convince them to let us take a different approach and use more video in the media plan and not a hundred percent video, by the way, it was heavily video though. And if you think about media tactics and how wide or narrow, they can be. And the idea of brand building typically the wider the audience you appeal to, the more brand impact you can have, right? And the more brand building impact you can have. And so that was part of our thinking as well, as we felt this is a real brand building opportunity because of how it's created and how it's executed and just the experience that the guests were going to you know, convert and get people to go into the restaurants as well. So it was this 1, 2 punch of using, 1st video and running video on YouTube and, we did a really interesting cable buy for them and network by for them. And we had the video running, but we also, leveraged social and we leveraged influencers and we really, got the word out and got people to come. And it was the most successful product launch they've ever done in the history of the company. And in fact, they gave us an award as strategic partner of the year as in our role in helping them effectively launch that product. So it is about balance and using the two, it's not, performance over brand. It's how do we balance the two and really make them work together to deliver, like I said, the result that we're looking for in terms of, in that case, traffic and sales in the restaurant.

Arek Dvornechuck: No, that's a great example. Basically just to sum up, as you mentioned, they were heavily invested in radio. But the thing that they do actually, you know, all this talk of the product is more visual as you mentioned. So you directed them into more videos and in TV on TV and on YouTube so that it can work together. So that's a great example, but can you talk to us like how do you actually convince or maybe explain the value to your clients when they come to you? And perhaps they just want to run a marketing campaign on an advertising campaign and. To get an immediate boost in sales, but they have, partners or stakeholders don't really believe at this point in, like broader brand building efforts, or they don't want to invest much in brand building as of now. They just come to you for an advertising campaign because they want to make immediate sales. How do you deal with that? How do you direct them? How do you explain the value?

Carolyn Walker: Yeah I think one thing is, we would never take on an advertising campaign if the company or the people representing the brand didn't have a fully fleshed out positioning. So I would say your advertising is going to be completely ineffective. If you don't have that in place. And so if that's not in place, that's our 1st conversation to have right is do you understand your brand positioning? Is it written down? Do you have it solidified? Can you explain it to us? And if they say no, then we say that's where we need to start. I just wouldn't feel comfortable spending a client's money when we're not even sure how the brand is positioned in the market. And so that's where we would start. And we would talk to them about that and it's not necessarily a fast process, but, maybe they have pieces of it, right? And then we're just trying to connect the dots and round it out. It can go fairly quickly. And if they didn't have the time or appetite for that, I think we probably would decline them as a client. We wouldn't take them on because we just don't feel like we would be effective. And are able to produce results that way. So that's one and I think, two, there is this stress, right? There's this tension between we need sales now and our understanding of the impact that brands can have over the long term. And by the way, there are, and we share this with our clients too. There are studies out there that show that performance marketing gets a boost when you have strong brand marketing in place, like to the tune of about six X. So that's when their ears perk up, which is. If you run it by yourself, you'll do fine. But if you really want a great effect, you should consider having a brand campaign running at the same time as your performance campaign and have them work together to get you a better result. So that's one. And I think the other conversation to have is, which I think, especially in the B2B space, people can wrap their heads around this, is that, there's a difference between your audience that's in market and out of market, right? And what percent of your audience is actually in the market at any given time versus what's that percentage of the audience that's out of market and they get it at any given time. And there's, LinkedIn B2B Institute has this. Quote unquote rule and it's not really a rule. It's not a hard and fast rule. It's kind of directionally like the 95-5 rule saying that 95% of your audience is likely to be out of market at any given time. 5% is only in. So if you want to guarantee your success. Over the long term, you have to think about that 95% that's out of market and how do we get them to buy when they are in market and you can't go from awareness to conversion in a nanosecond, you need to be out there promoting your brand so that when they are in market, hopefully you're top of mind and hopefully you've created some kind of, relationship with that person so that they not only know about you, but they're inclined to seek you out and, potentially buy from you.

So there's those kinds of conversations that you can have. And I think the last conversation really is about building brand equity and value. And, in many instances, your brand value is one of the biggest assets that you have on your balance sheet, and so if we can. Build more brand equity and more brand value. It actually has an effect on what your business can pick commands in the marketplace, right? Whether you're publicly traded or not. So there's also that conversation and there's quite a bit of alignment in terms of building a brand is about. Ensuring those future sales, future cash flow and brand value, or the enterprise value of a company is largely built on your future cash flows. So there's a relationship there that a lot of financial people or CFOs can understand.

Arek Dvornechuck: Yes. That's a great distinction as well. You mentioned that 95% of the audience might be out of the market and I think it brings us to the question that I wanted to ask you, so how do you actually ensure that your campaign can resonate with those people as well? Not only that specific niche, those 5% that they're already interested in, might be in the market right now. But how do you ensure that campaign can resonate with a broader audience, and also resonate with, this broader audience that is out of the market as of now, how do you ensure that, 

Carolyn Walker: It's a good question. And I go back to the positioning. I go back to brand positioning and also brand purpose and why. And those are the topics, the things that really help us shape. Campaigns, right? We're trying to find that purpose “why” that resonates with the largest audience out there for any company or brand or product or service. And so those are the stories like, those are the ideas that we build then stories around that resonate with the audience. And I'm not saying that every brand campaign should go out to a general population. No, that's not the case. Especially, you know, if you think about certain products either space and either B2C or B2B, maybe it's something like, food is something everyone consumes, so that could be super wide, but it might be like a luxury car. So, it's narrower or in the B2B space. It might be, air conditioning. And so those audiences are. They're defined, right? They're smaller, but we want to get to as many people with a brand campaign as possible in those categories.

So there's categories that we want to reach. So I think that there's a distinction to be made there in terms of how broad we are talking here. And making sure that we're not wasting impressions on people that are not ever going to be a customer of ours. So again, I go back to purpose and why and then we take that information and we use that to strategize, what kind of creative right and distinctive creative could then support a message that would resonate with that group that we're looking to target with that specific kind of story around the brand.

Arek Dvornechuck: So it all depends on the type of product that you have, but. As you mentioned, it's all about having that strong foundation, having your purpose, having your positioning clearly defined, and then based on that you build your brand campaign. And then you can run your performance campaign, that is more kind of a niche down and more niche and more directed at customers who can buy right now, but also at the same time, you want to run, as you mentioned earlier in our conversation, brand campaign and performance campaign that they should run together. So that way you can build that, so you can make immediate sales now with the performance campaign, but you also can build that brand equity and brand value, which is extremely important for the future. As you mentioned, more and more business owners, entrepreneurs, partners, they realize the value of that, of the investment in that brand equity in building that future brand value which will in turn affect the sales, right? That's a great conversation. I'm really happy. You joined us today. 

As we are approaching the end of our episode. Of course, we're going to link to your website, which is a response. agency for you guys to check out. I recommend you guys to go there. There is a lot of great work and case studies. And what are the other ways to connect with you? Are you active on social media, LinkedIn?

Carolyn Walker: Yeah, I'm super active on LinkedIn. You can certainly search for me on LinkedIn and find me there. I'm always open to getting emails too. So I'll throw my email out there. It's Pretty simple. Yeah. Happy to connect and hear from anyone in the audience.

Arek Dvornechuck: Awesome. Awesome. I appreciate you coming on the show. Thank you so much.

Carolyn Walker: Thank you so much.

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