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Embrace the Basics of Brand for 2024

by Kevin Leahy September 1, 2023

The marketing world always has a “shiny new thing” (Threads, anyone?). Our upcoming webinar examines how these developments can pull us away from the long game of brand management and offers some “less shiny”—but by no means dull—ideas about brand.

A colleague recently confessed to feeling disruption fatigue. “There’s too much to pay attention to,” they said. “And a lot of Next Big Things turned out to be just…a thing.”

I sympathize. In the span of just two months, an entire social media platform has launched and stalled out. Yet the hype cycle churns on, diverting our attention to the next thing—often at the expense of more mundane, but necessary, marketing activities. Brand management is a long game that requires a dual perspective: on this year’s objectives and the next; on building future demand while capturing today’s; on potential game-changers and unchanging fundamentals.

As 2024 budgets come into view, here are three “oldies but goodies” to keep an eye on.

Hold the budgetary line

When the macroeconomic water gets choppy, marketing budgets are first on the chopping block. It makes intuitive sense: if everyone’s spending less, then why market to a customer who’s sitting on the sidelines?

This is an instance where intuition leads us astray. Boston Consulting Group’s recent meta-analysis reconfirms a century-old finding: that cutting marketing spend leads to long-term damage, including slower sales growth, lower market share, and declines in total shareholder return. Among the latest brands to relearn this expensive lesson is Gucci, who cut its ad budget early in the pandemic and has vastly underperformed competitors who increased their own spend and saw above-average growth.

When competitors go quiet, seize the opportunity to get loud. Which leads us to…

Be excessive (in share of voice)

In 1990, Syracuse University professor and advertising practitioner John Philip Jones published a study demonstrating a correlation between a brand’s share of market and its share of voice (the brand’s share of the total media spend in the category). Les Binet and Peter Field examined the relationship between share of market and share of voice in their 2013 paper The Long and the Short of It (summary here). They found that brands who underspent on advertising relative to their share of market tended to lose sales, while brands who spent more tended to grow.

This overspending, or Excess Share of Voice (eSOV), may be necessary to take market share. The size of your brand, your category, the quality of your creative, and even the quality of attention inherent to certain channels and media may all play a role in magnifying or moderating the effectiveness of your budget.

Balancing today’s and tomorrow’s sales

According to research from the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute in partnership with LinkedIn, at any given moment only about 5 percent of your market is ready to buy; the other 95 percent represents potential future buyers. Most marketing activity today is designed to capture that 5 percent. One of the biggest reasons for that skew, per the World Forum of Advertiser’s latest survey? Because marketers believe it’s easier to measure.

These findings are consistent with long-term trends in digital marketing, which inaugurated a shift away from long-term brand-building activities and redirected money toward short-term performance marketing tactics. The standard Binet & Field advice is to split your budget 60:40 in favor of brand (surprise, surprise: the brand guy says you should spend more on brand-building). I can see your CFO spit-take even as I write. Fair enough—you need to reach in-market buyers to harvest today’s demand.

But consider: if your competitors are wrestling each other for today’s 5 percent of buyers, you might be able to step off the mat and build more mental availability with tomorrow’s 95 percent. With many of us already deep into 2024 planning, tomorrow will be here sooner than we think.


Interested in hearing more about brand strategy for 2024? Join us for a webinar on Tues, September 26th from 11am-noon CT to learn how you can embrace the basics of brand strategy to achieve long-term brand success and drive ROI.

Photo Credit: JMS | Unsplash

As Senior Director of Content and Brand Strategy, Kevin helps brands communicate with authenticity, clarity and distinction. He brings an interdisciplinary perspective to content, having served previously as Strategy Director and Creative Director at other agencies. From naming and taglines to strategic narratives and long-form content, his work includes cross-platform engagements for some of the world’s most successful brands.

Favorite Chicago spot: The Museum of Science and Industry

Favorite breakfast food: Steak & Eggs

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