(Extracted from No B. S. Direct Marketing by Dan Kennedy)
I am not opposed to brand-building.
I am opposed to paying for brand-building.
… Brand power can be acquired as a no-cost byproduct of profitable direct-response advertising and direct marketing. My preferred strategy is simple: buy response, gratefully accept brand-building as a bonus. NEVER buy brand-building and hope for direct response as a bonus.
… Paying for traditional brand-building may be fine, even essential, for giant companies with giant budgets in combat for store shelf space and consumers’ recognition. If you are the CEO of Heinz or Coors or some company like that, playing with shareholders’ money, and fighting it out as a commodity purveyor, by all means buy brand identity. But if you are an entrepreneur playing with your own marbles, beware. Copying the brand-builders can bankrupt you. You should also take note of really big brand-name companies that are advertising brand, but also aggressively and directly asking prospects to go to a website or call a phone number, like GEICO and Progressive in insurance. This direct lead flow is paying for the advertising, with the contribution to brand recognition as a bonus.
… Brand-building is best for very, very patient marketers with very, very deep pockets filled with other people’s money. You are likely far better served by focusing on leads, customers, sales, and profits directly driven by your marketing, letting whatever brand equity you get be provided as a free byproduct of direct marketing.