People in finance get scared whenever you mention branding campaigns as a marketer.

They are like “whoa WAIT a second, how will you measure our ROI, how will you know that things are working?  You just want to spend like a Saudi Price with a popular Instagram account!”.

Disclaimer, this guy is from Dubai and I don’t know if he has Instagram.

The thing is that it is much harder to measure effectiveness of a campaign when you are not doing direct response marketing, however this doesn’t mean that branding campaigns don’t work.  Here are a couple practical tips on how to make branding campaigns work .

1) Know your audience.

  • For the love of God, before launching a large-scale branding campaign, think hard about your target.  This will inform the medium and method of where you place your brand campaign.  Want to target teenagers?  These days, look to Snapchat YouTube, or Instagram.  Kids?  Think about TV and YouTube.
  • Doing a survey of your current customers and what media they enjoy / what their can be useful – I can never emphasize the amount you can learn just by talking to your customers and understanding their preferences.  Or look at what your competitors. Beware though – sometimes your competitors are more clueless than you are.
  • If you have the budget for it, find a good creative agency or consultant that knows your target.  Just a few hours of chatting about their experiences can be invaluable.
  • Get scrappy.  Catalog who the people are who are active on your social media channels.  Read their comments.  Understand them.

2) Say the right thing.

  • Many people claim to be branding experts who know instantly what to say.  I am more of a research-based marketer.  This doesn’t mean tons of A/B tests and analysis necessarily.  It does mean understanding what has been successful for your target market in the past.
  • While ultimately developing creative is a leap of faith, make sure to test and confirm the message you are going towards along the way as much as possible. Show it to people in your target market.  You don’t necessarily need a crazy expensive focus group to get people’s opinions.
  • Learn what works.  Set up all channels of the campaign in a way that you can measure it later as much as possible.  Unless your campaign was a complete disaster, chances are you’ll be doing another one again. Learn from your experience.

3) The two magic words:  Reach and Frequency.

  • Reach means the number of people who see your ad.  Frequency means the number of times they see it.
  • In today’s world where people emphasize digital and direct response, there is little thought put into frequency.  Simply put, if someone has never heard of your brand, showing one ad will likely do very little.  People need to develop a familiarity and connection with your brand.
  • A rule of thumb for brand campaigns is that 65% of your target audience (say, kids 6-11) should see your ad 3+ times for optimal effectiveness.  If you are working with a media buying agency, make sure to ask for these numbers.
  • If you can hit people with similar messaging from multiple channels, even better.  You want to create an effect that “oh wow, everyone is talking about xx brand!”.
  • You can look at reach and frequency numbers on almost any medium.  Facebook, YouTube, TV, Radio, etc.  Don’t be lazy, do it.

That’s all I’ve got right now.  What have you found makes for an effective branding campaign?