Brand Marketing Vs Performance Marketing

Is brand marketing taking over? In recent months we’ve seen major brands such as Airbnb, McDonalds, Virgin Atlantic, and even Netflix excel in brand marketing. But what does this really mean? And why are they doing it?

In this blog, we’ll take a deep dive into these case studies, and get to the root of the question: brand marketing or performance marketing?

Performance Marketing

Let’s start by defining the terms we’re using. What is performance marketing?

This is a data-driven approach to marketing. It’s all about targeting customers and generating sales, generally with immediate and trackable results. Think:

  • Pay Per Click (PPC)
  • Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
  • Email marketing
  • Influencer marketing
  • Ad retargeting.

It’s about targeting customers and generating a short-term boost in sales. Performance marketing takes advantage of the huge volume of data available to us now. Utilising tools like Google Analytics helps to track customers throughout the journey and link PPC and ad campaigns with purchases.

Have you migrated to GA4 yet? Read our blog to ensure you don’t lose access to your data.

Brand Marketing

Let’s start by breaking down some preconceived notions about branding. Your brand is not your logo. It’s not your colour scheme. It’s not even your name. Your brand is your identity. It is the reaction people have when they hear your name. How seeing your logo or consuming your products makes them think and feel. Brand is what makes someone reach for a Coke and never a Pepsi, or save up all their life for a Ferrari.

If branding is your identity, then marketing is the communication of that identity.

Brand marketing means building long lasting relationships between your business and your customers. These methods focus on the total addressable market, not just the people who are ready to part with their cash! It’s all about winning market share, and the hearts and minds of your existing and potential customers. It’s also about making sure every interaction with your company provides your customers with an experience that aligns with their beliefs and values.

Of course, the first step is ensuring you have a strong brand with clear goals and a defined story.

The tricky part is, these types of campaigns are hard to track and lead to increased sales over time, rather than providing the immediate boost you would expect to see with something like a PPC campaign.

In his book ‘This is Marketing’, Seth Godin articulates the difference between the two types:

  • Direct, or performance, marketing is action orientated.
  • Brand marketing is culturally orientated.

Not directly or actively selling a product or service in a marketing campaign may seem counter-intuitive. However, investing in the relationship between your business and customers is fundamental in achieving long term growth and results.

Realistically one does not exist without the other, and businesses must invest in both. You’re unlikely to click on an ad from a brand you don’t trust right? Brand marketing helps build trust, which in turn builds successful performance marketing campaigns.

Knowing how to balance brand marketing with performance marketing is a marketer’s greatest challenge, with both approaches contributing significantly to company success. Ultimately, it is a blend of the two approaches that is needed for short-term revenue and improved long-term growth.

Brands Currently Killing It with Brand Marketing


We’ve all seen the ad by now, and whilst it has driven sales, Edgar Wright’s ad primarily articulates the feeling inspired by the McDonald’s brand – and has some fun with it too! There’s no obvious sales pitch here, but even non-fans have probably gotten swept up in the excitement of this colourful and humorous ad. McDonalds flexes the power of their brand, knowing that subtle references are sufficient to carry the message.


Netflix’s ‘Wednesday’

Netflix employed a clever use of traditional advertising methods: billboards, adverts, and using the show’s characteristic dark sense of humour to its advantage created the perfect storm of online attention and offline interest leading it to become one of Netflix’s most watched shows. They also showcased the power of creative marketing, commandeering security trays at airports, and even unleashing ‘Thing’ on the streets of New York City for some smart social media marketing to create a frenzy for the new show.


Virgin Atlantic

This cinematic advert shines a light on the brand’s values, creating a tribe that Virgin Atlantic customers and employees will feel proud to be a part of. This beautifully shot sequence builds a strong sense of identity, and aligns the brand with its recent announcements of their gender identity policies which saw them ditch the gendered uniforms, in preference of staff being allowed to work in whatever they feel is comfortable. This continuity of message builds a strong brand perception and clearly outlines the values of Virgin Atlantic.



The home-sharing company enjoyed its most profitable quarter at the end of 2022, as reported in the Wall Street Journal, citing its strategy of slashing advertising spending, and investing instead on brand marketing. Their ‘Strangers’ ad revels in the success the brand has had over the years and draws on initial criticism of the business model; that strangers wouldn’t want to holiday in other people’s homes. This ad focuses more on the people that share their homes, bringing Airbnb’s USP to the forefront of the advertising campaign.

Want more examples of brilliant marketing campaigns? Check out our top pick of 2022 campaigns

Now not everyone has the budget to hire a famous director, create a cinematic TV ad, or brand security trays at major airports. Remember, brand advertising is about building the relationship between your business and your customers. There’s plenty that can be done on a smaller scale, for example:

  • Invest in your customer journey – How can you make every touch point between business and customer a positive experience?
  • Create a social media community – Community is the operative word here! Create a Facebook group where your target audience can engage with your sector. Share user generated content to make your social platforms just that, social!
  • If you’re feeling creative – what about commissioning a jingle to use in TV, radio, and social media advertising. Don’t underestimate the power of music!
  • Work with a marketing agency and benefit from their marketing expertise to help you build and maintain a successful brand.

There are plenty of ways to get creative with your brand marketing, and there isn’t one size that fits all. What’s important to remember is that brand marketing is essential for building long term growth, and will positively impact your performance marketing campaigns to generate short term sales boosts. In a time of financial uncertainty where customer spending habits may be reserved, this could be a perfect time to invest in brand marketing. Use the time to build up the relationship with your customers, so when they’re ready to spend, you’re their first port of call.

Think your business could benefit from a brand marketing campaign? Contact us to see how we can help level up your business.

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