These words did not come from me, but from Ian French, President and Executive Director of Northern Lights Direct Response Television. His article entitled “Don’t lose branding” was published in DM News’ 2007 issue of Essential Guide to Direct Response Television.
As the actors used to say on the old westerns, “Them’s are fightin words” for most direct marketers. Why? Because we know that the branding message and the direct response offer cannot both maintain the starring role and still succeed in the market place.
I will never forget the extent to which branders push their agenda on direct marketers often crippling otherwise strong direct marketing campaigns.
One client, for example, insisted that we typeset all direct response letters in the same required fonts as the brochure. Visually, the letter was difficult to read and no longer looked like a letter. I responded by asking them if the administrative assistant typeset the letters from the CEO to customers. The answer, of course, was no.
In another, we had to use a branding headline burying the offer as a subhead.
To what extent do we enforce the concept that all advertisements must look and feel the same as the branding messages regardless of the objectives? What is the primary objective of the campaign? If we know nothing else about successful messaging, we know that trying to get an advertisement to do too much is a formula for failure.
There is little room for playing around with irrelevant phrases that do not work hard to drive response. And as always, the graphics must maintain the tone and brand look, but must also bend to what works in generating sales.
Clearly, the offer and other messaging elements must remain consistent with the brand. But to many branders, any semblance to making a sale with the advertising causes them to go into convulsions. It’s almost as if “selling” were somehow beneath their lofty branding strategy.
To be fair to Ian French, he did confirm the need to tame the branding beast.
“The final step is to integrate the brand into a DRTV campaign without sacrificing the response power of the medium.”
But therein lies the challenge. Other than a tag line with logo and appropriate tone and feel, any direct response format will feel foreign to branders who are used to very short copy, a lot of white space and a lack of specifics.
The author further states that we should “avoid the common mistake of separating the branding from the selling.” In my view, this statement implies that the branding objective is something other than selling. In other words, branding is not selling.
It sounds like there is dissonance right there. I thought that the branding’s reason-for-being was to sell?
What is your take on this issue of blending the brand with direct response messaging? How does that work? We know that the feel of direct response advertising in any medium will be different simply on the basis that direct response is copy heavy and leads with the offer. How do we keep the branding message from interfering with the selling power of direct response?