Brandformance: Why companies should merge branding and performance marketing

In the digital world, it is becoming increasingly difficult to attract attention and customers. GDPR and algorithm changes make it difficult for companies to maintain their market position. Branding and performance are still treated like two separate silos. This leads to a whole series of conflicts of interest & objectives. In this blog article, we analyze the importance of brandformance and why companies should no longer ignore this topic in 2023.

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In today’s digital world, it is becoming increasingly difficult to attract attention and win customers in the highly competitive market. Current developments around the GDPR and corresponding changes in tracking and algorithms also make it increasingly difficult for companies to maintain and expand their market position.

Especially in these times, the combination of branding and performance is becoming increasingly important. This combination is what we call brandformance. As a performance marketing agency based in Vienna with a broad international client base, we have been involved in brandformance for almost 10 years. But never before has our passion been as relevant as it is today.

In this blog article, we’ll walk you through the importance of this topic and analyze why it’s essential to build a solid digital strategy on brandformance.

1.1 Defining and merging branding and performance

Brandformance is the fusion of branding and performance marketing. It’s about building a strong brand while delivering measurable results. While branding focuses on building positive brand perception, performance marketing targets specific performance goals such as sales and website traffic. Brandformance combines both approaches and enables a holistic brand strategy.

"Today, branding and performance are still considered strictly separate from each other in practice. In most cases, it is not only the budget that is separated. Often, independent agencies are even hired for the respective disciplines, which are not even networked to work closely together. From the perspective of holistic brand management, this is a major problem."

- Markus Siuda, CEO & Founder Corvis

1.2 Advantages of a holistic digital strategy with brandformance

A holistic digital strategy that combines branding and performance offers numerous advantages.

It is proven that a strong brand strengthens the trust of the target group. Branding therefore measurably translates into higher customer loyalty and repeat purchases, but it also reduces acquisition costs in campaigns. A strong brand usually has more search volume, is more firmly anchored in the customer’s relevance set and simplifies the purchase decision through trustworthiness. While a performance can “collapse,” a brand remains largely stable with good management.

Performance marketing, in turn, promises effective measurement of success, data-driven targeting and adaptation of online campaigns. With performance marketing, it is possible to optimize all influencing factors that lead to conversions in a very agile way and to scale the insights gained. While branding is a slow but steady process, performance marketing campaigns can be optimized daily for optimal results.

Brandformance merges these two important disciplines and ensures that not only is good performance achieved, but the brand is strengthened in the process.

– Photo: Nikolas Brunner

"Performance marketing in many cases is split again between channels and programmatic, often with different partners or agencies. Conflicting goals arise. The controllability of the campaign's overall success, as well as synergies between media and disciplines, are lost.

While most partners are certainly trying to achieve the best outcome for their clients, they are still operating within their own sphere of influence. If only for reasons of economy and personal impact, they have to claim maximum volume for themselves, that's normal.

The only problem is that this creates conflicting goals, and only very few companies are able to ensure meaningful attribution, let alone an optimal media mix, for precisely this reason. As a result, budgets are only used efficiently within the disciplines, but not across branding and performance."

- Markus Siuda, CEO & Founder Corvis

Brandformance in digital marketing

Brandformance plays a critical role in a company’s digital strategy. Unfortunately, this strategy is still strongly underestimated, especially in the DACH region. It’s about building a strong brand presence online while delivering measurable results based on good performance. By combining branding elements with performance marketing tactics, companies can communicate their brand messages to targeted audiences while measuring and optimizing their responses.

2.1 The importance of brandformance in digital strategy

Digital strategies built on brandformance enable effective brand communication and improved performance metrics. They help companies differentiate themselves in the digital world and build long-term customer loyalty.

The change in the market and the need for brandformance

3.1 The impact of iOS 14 and algorithm changes

The introduction of iOS 14 and algorithm changes has significant implications for digital marketing. Companies need to adapt their strategies to target their audiences, capture their attention, and persuade them.

If you’re still using the same targeting and campaign structures today as you did 12 months ago, you’re leaving a lot of potential on the street. That’s because algorithms are evolving faster than most marketers can react. Yet success in digital marketing requires precisely this deep understanding of the functionality of data-driven processes and algorithms.

What do we mean by that? Three simple examples (out of dozens…)

  • Conversion optimization: Tracking restrictions lead to fewer results being fired back to the channels (postback). The reduced data is in turn incorrectly attributed by the channels – i.e. incorrectly assigned to the individual channels, campaigns or target groups. If you don’t react here in strategy, tracking and campaign structures, the algorithm simply doesn’t have enough data to work safely.
  • Bidding competition: Many companies bid on very similar target groups in their conversion campaigns, driving up prices. As a result, it is only possible to keep up with the competition with very high budgets, or to be able to make a high bid for the desired conversion despite low expenditure. Consequently, companies need to optimize their customer lifetime value in order to spend more money per customer.
  • Reach decreases: Due to the phenomenon described above, the reach for the budget used also decreases. But since margins are not made of rubber, acquisition costs (CPA) still must not break budgets. Companies must therefore achieve significantly more performance with the same advertising budgets. The finest hour of target-group-relevant performance creative. Creatives have never been more important in lowering CPA.

Brandformance enables companies to respond flexibly to these changes in order to continue to achieve good campaign performance. We’ll take a closer look at why this is the case and what it means in concrete terms in a moment.

3.2 Why brandformance is more sustainable for companies

Compared to simple performance campaigns, brandformance creates a solid foundation for a company’s long-term success without sacrificing performance. Quite the opposite. It enables continuous communication with the target group and builds a strong brand presence, which in turn has a positive impact on performance indicators in performance marketing. The intertwining of the two disciplines usually results in an improvement in the overall ROI of the implemented campaigns.

3.3 Positive effects of brandformance

Brandformance has a variety of positive impacts on businesses. It improves brand awareness, increases customer trust and leads to a higher conversion rate. By integrating branding and performance marketing, companies will be able to achieve long-term brand loyalty and measurable business results.

It’s important that we talk about how algorithms work in online marketing.

For example, optimize a campaign for conversions – which is 90% of the time in performance marketing – the algorithm targets those customers who are potentially ready to buy. Since this usually works excellently, it also leads to an exceptionally high performance of the campaigns. However, depending on the geographic targeting, these low-hanging-fruits will be exhausted in the foreseeable future. Consequently, your acquisition costs increase. Many marketers counter this with particularly creative ad concepts that lower CPAs again in the short term. That is good and important. In most cases, however, these creatives will “burn out” quickly and have done purely nothing for your brand during this time.

Now, let’s compare the optimization for brand awareness at. Depending on the target group you want to reach, the algorithm will try to play your campaign to as many people as possible several times in order to anchor the brand message. Multiple visual contacts lead to targeted branding. With this type of campaign optimization, you achieve a much deeper target group penetration, at more favorable coverage prices. So, unlike conversion campaigns, we don’t optimize for the low-hanging-fruits mentioned earlier. The campaign is being rolled out very broadly. To people who just aren’t ready to buy, or simply haven’t had your brand in the “evoked set” yet.

This can be played on arbitrarily to the different optimizations. But if we combine what we have just established, we get a very clear message. Brand awareness campaigns build new target groups that tend to be ready to buy and thus feed conversion campaigns more and more. Incidentally, this effect was clearly demonstrated in a global study by Meta.

– Photo: Nikolas Brunner

"Although we invest a relevant part of the budget in branding, the ROAS (= Return On Ad Spend) of the overall campaign is increasing. The reason for this is that new warm audiences are being built for our direct response campaigns."

- Manuel Lutter, Head of Digital Growth at Corvis

Brandformance in action:

Using our campaign for “Harry Potter™: The Exhibition,” we illustrated the results that can be achieved with the optimal interplay of branding & performance.

To the Case Study:
“Harry Potter™: The Exhibition – ROAS +21 with Brandformance”.

The building blocks of a strong brandformance strategy

4.1 Target group analysis and customer journey

A thorough target group analysis is the starting point of a strong brandformance strategy. Companies need to understand their target audience: analyze their needs, wants, concerns, preferences and behaviors to develop tailored messages. The customer journey plays a crucial role here, as it provides insights into the decision-making process of the target group.

Testing appropriate Angles (Angle = The sales psychological argument with which we want to reach the target group) and transporting the winners together with the brand world makes highly converting Brandformance Creatives.

In our day-to-day business, we were repeatedly confronted with having to work with ad creatives that had no proven target group fit. A lack of research and testing of Angles means that campaigns can hardly be scaled profitably. The budget is spent inefficiently and the message does not penetrate your target audience. Therefore, it is worthwhile to rely on well-founded research by experts.

We often use the analogy with a fish hook here. If you throw a small hook into a pond with lots of big fish, maybe one fish will bite. But to make the catch, the hook is too small.

If you throw a big hook into a pond with a lot of small fish, it is not possible for them to bite and you also go empty-handed.

Finding the right angle and hook as part of the target group research is one of the biggest, if not the biggest, influencing factors for successful campaigns.

4.2 Branding elements and brand identity

Developing a strong brand identity is a fundamental building block for brandformance. The following applies: without identity there is no impact, without impact there is no polarization, without polarization there is no relevance.

Companies need to carry forward their brand values, personality and visual identity into performance campaigns and implement them consistently. By creating a strong brand identity, companies can create a consistent brand perception and gain the trust of their target audience.

Here’s a real-world example of this, using the Tax Elite training that Corvis developed, branded and scaled online for Investment Punk:

Step 1: Target group analysis

Analysis of what the real problems and wishes of the target group are. Build a deep understanding and on this basis develop the Angles, the design and later the campaign and ads.

Step 2: Elaboration of a brand symbol within the brand world

We developed a luminous sign as a symbol of legal protection against excessive taxes. To achieve a strong impact in the ads, we worked with strong contrasts of black to cyan. The “Glow” used was also taken into account in the photo shoot. The new (digital first) brand aims for strong pattern interrupts already in the branding.

Step 3: Establish and charge the brand symbol with campaigns

The strong branding element, our sign, was physically produced and used in its entirety in all advertisements and actively integrated into the storytelling. Dozens of variations are developed to find out where performance is optimal.

Step 4: Scaling the Winning Ads

We relied on clean creative testing to identify potential winners. In the first step, we analyze soft KPIs such as CPM, CTR, thumb stopping rate and also conversions. Winning ads will continue to scale in various iterations. The remaining ads are used in retargeting to establish branding with multiple touchpoints.

"Even the ads that didn't perform particularly well paid 100% into our newly created brand, increasing overall success. The result was a 7-figure turnover, in the launch week."

- Martin Siuda, CEO & Founder Corvis (Branding Expert)

4.3 Brandformance Creatives in Communication

Creative communication is a crucial aspect of brandformance. Companies should develop innovative and engaging creatives that pay into both branding and performance goals. By integrating branding elements and messaging into advertising materials, a strong brand presence can be established while achieving measurable results and good performance.

Some examples from Brandformance Creatives:

– Source: Creatives by Corvis & ninesixteen

4.4 Creatives as the new targeting

Today, data-driven developed ads can be used as a new targeting tool. What does that mean in concrete terms?

Social media channels are doing everything they can to stay relevant to their users. For this reason, millions are invested in the target group-relevant control of advertisements. Whereas some time ago, advertisers defined to whom ads would be displayed, today’s ad creatives are data-driven in finding their target audience.

"Today, algorithms work in such a way that your ads are played out to exactly those people where the relevance is highest. It's all the more important that your ad creatives are exactly on point, otherwise you'll be optimizing for the wrong target groups!"

- Manuel Lutter, Head of Digital Growth at Corvis

By personalizing ads based on the interests and behaviors of your target audience, you can target your marketing messages to the right people at the right time. This leads to:

  • A higher relevance
  • Lower wastage
  • A better commitment
  • An increase in brandformance

So it definitely pays to invest in brandformance creatives, as you make a directly measurable contribution to the ROI of your campaigns and sustainably increase your brand value.

4.5 Multi-channel: Purchase decisions need touchpoints

Purchase decisions today are influenced by various touchpoints. A strong brandformance strategy should therefore include a multi-channel approach. You don’t establish a brand on a single channel.

Accordingly, companies should reach their target audience through various channels, be it through different social media, search engine marketing, email marketing or influencer collaborations. Because branding is positioning multiplied by reach.

By being present in different channels, you can capture the attention of the target group, anchor messages and thus positively influence purchase decisions. Apart from that, the resulting increased search volume can be converted directly by means of search campaigns on Google.

Success factors in the implementation of brandformance

5.1 Messages from the target group for the target group

An effective brandformance strategy relies on an in-depth knowledge of your target audience. Companies need to understand the needs, challenges, and desires of their target audience and tailor their marketing messages accordingly. By sending relevant and targeted messages to their target audience, a strong emotional connection can be built and the trust of the target group can be gained.

In many projects, we start the development of a brandformance strategy with a survey that is sent out to at least 1,000 customers. The principle is simple: relevant questions give rise to relevant messages:

  • What made you decide to buy?
  • What was special about your shopping experience with us?
  • What do you like most about the product?
  • What problem did you want to solve with the product?
  • Which word describes you best? (Choice of options)
  • What is important to you when buying a product of this type?
  • What has bothered you about other competitor products?
  • Why did you start looking for (product)?
  • What is the ONE problem our product could solve for you?

You’d be surprised how clear messages suddenly reveal themselves when you evaluate hundreds of responses from your customers instead of freely conceptualizing marketing messages.

Brandformance campaigns must emerge from your customers!

5.2 Data-driven decision making and analysis

Data-driven decision making is another success factor for Brandformance. In other words, working budget-efficiently and keeping decision-making processes short.

In brandformance, it is highly recommended to test the elaborated messages properly before producing final ad creatives and scaling them in corresponding campaigns with larger budgets.

The scientifically proven method to do this is called beta-typing strategy and was developed by Meta itself. This highly efficient production process was developed in close cooperation between the internal Data and Creative Departments, with many advantages proven by studies:

  • Better ROI of campaigns (incl. ROAS)
  • Faster and more flexible production process
  • Real-time responses from customers to different approaches
  • Creativity through test results and courage to hypothesize
  • Reduced risk of producing ineffective ads
  • 15% lower cost per advertising reminder*.
  • 13% more favorable action per action intention*.
  • 26% lower cost per action*

– Source: internal meta data, 163 campans, Dec 19

In simple summary, beta typing for Brandformance Creatives works as follows:

  1. Formulate hypotheses based on target group research.
  2. Test and evaluate these hypotheses in simple advertisements.
  3. Produce high-quality performance creatives from winning messages.
  4. Based on the findings of the tests, define new hypotheses to restart the production cycle.
  5. A so-called “creative loop” of high-quality brandformance creatives is created and only messages that work are scaled.

So it’s about analyzing and evaluating data to make informed decisions and continuously optimize your marketing strategy. By measuring and monitoring performance metrics, companies can assess the effectiveness of their marketing activities and make agile adjustments. Maximum budget efficiency is ensured.

5.3 Continuous optimization and adaptation

Fire performance is not a static process. It requires continuous optimization and adaptation to keep pace with the changing needs and requirements of the target group. Companies should regularly review and adjust their branding and performance strategy to ensure it continues to be effective and achieve desired results.

Once a Creative Loop is installed in companies, this process comes naturally. Simplified, this testing process can be represented as follows:

It is a fact that branding pays into performance and can anchor performance branding efficiently. Separation of these categories exists only on paper, only in budgeting and expertise. In practice, branding and performance are deeply intertwined and should be treated in exactly the same way. It's time we talked about brandformance and about not just "booking" multichannel, but actively managing it. We need to make data-driven decisions across channels. Only in this way do we make real brandformance possible at all.

- Markus Siuda, CEO & Founder Corvis

5.4 Performance culture in decision-making processes

To make decisions in a data-driven and agile way, companies need a performance culture. Such a culture equips the agency or marketer with the appropriate power to make creative decisions. It defines and promotes data-driven decision making and continuous improvement.

At this point, please imagine a guardrail system of a highway. The highway allows you to drive at high speed to reach your destination faster. The guard rails provide you with a clear framework within which you can navigate. If necessary, they can change lanes at any time. What always remains the same is your direction of travel and the high speed at which you move.

It is the same with a performance culture. It acts as a guardrail for campaign scaling decisions. It provides a clear framework within which rapid decisions can be made without major reconciliations. As long as the data clearly supports these decisions and the brand is conveyed positively, this option must be available at all times. For example, when we talk about trends on TikTok, they are over faster than many companies have time to evaluate whether they want to be there.

An open corporate culture that is willing to learn is key to Brandformance’s success.

The role of a performance marketing agency in brandformance

6.1 Why a specialized agency is advantageous

When it comes to implementing a strong brandformance strategy, a specialized performance marketing agency can give you key advantages:

  • It has expertise, experience and resources to holistically support you in developing and implementing a customized brandformance strategy.
  • It usually works much more closely with the social media channels than would be possible for the company.
  • It brings experience, knowledge and learnings of multiple accounts.
  • Know-How stays safely with your partner, even if you have to deal with attrition.
  • It has established analysis and research processes that can be established immediately similar to a plug and play system.
  • It can help companies achieve their goals faster and more effectively and maximize the success of their marketing activities.
  • External impulses are often indispensable to remain agile and prevent operational blindness.
  • Good agencies are able to transparently and impartially evaluate multiple advertising channels for you based on their performance.

However, pay close attention to ensure that your agency has experience in both multi-channel performance marketing and branding. It must know exactly how to combine these disciplines efficiently and be able to explain corresponding processes to you in detail.

There are still very few specialized agencies in German-speaking countries, while Branformance is already much more firmly established in the international market.

We are happy to be at your disposal at any time for an initial consultation.

– Photo: Nikolas Brunner

6.2 Our approach and expertise as a performance agency in Vienna

As a leading performance marketing agency in Vienna, we have been focusing on brandformance for almost 10 years. We support companies in an advisory and operational capacity in the development and implementation of their personal brandformance strategy and the establishment of a performance culture.

We have extensive experience and expertise in branding, performance marketing, audience analysis and continuous campaign optimization. As an agency partner of Meta, TikTok, Google, Pinterest, Snapchat and Twitch, we meet all the requirements needed for upscale brandformance strategies and campaigns.

Our goal is to help companies build a strong brand while delivering measurable results. We stand for digital success.

Conclusion: Brandformance as a future trend in digital marketing

Brandformance is a key future trend in digital marketing. So companies that want to establish a strong brand while achieving measurable results should definitely look into brandformance. A solid digital strategy that combines branding and performance marketing is absolutely significant for long-term success.

We help you establish this strategy for your company and position yourself successfully in the digital world.

If you would like to learn more about Brandformance’s capabilities, please use the form below to schedule a free strategy consultation with us.

Markus Siuda

Markus Siuda founded his first association at the age of 15, with which he independently gained his first experience in online marketing. At that time, it was to promote his own events and his band. Over the years, he was able to gain a lot of experience in agencies and in marketing in startups and large companies. In 2014, he finally founded the agency Corvis with his brother Martin H. Siuda with the goal of using his knowledge for the measurable success of his clients. Markus Siuda combines advertising expertise with marketing know-how and online marketing skills to create a unique performance concept.

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