Become Known or Generate Leads: Why is the Distinction Between Brand Marketing and Direct Marketing so Important?

by Tim A. Bohlen

What do you want to achieve with your marketing measures? Which marketing measures are suitable to achieve your desired results?

Long term, loyalty-focused recognition of a brand by its customers’ needs different measures than a short term, sales-focused goal. Especially startups and young companies are often overstrained to use their limited budget in a target-oriented way. But to be able to do this, they first need to know their goal: What is it for? Only when a team can answer this question, all disciplines can work towards this goal and take measures for the effective communication.

"The question is therefore not: brand marketing or direct marketing - which is better? It is: brand marketing or direct marketing - what do you want to achieve?"

Due to the complexity of today's marketing tools, the choice is not an easy one to make, even if you know the answer to the above question. Many tools can be used for both brand and direct marketing depending on content, form, wording and design. Accordingly, the examples of measures in the course of this article are to be understood as typical measures for brand or direct marketing, because content and context can justify the use for either discipline.

However, no need to make it too complicated.

What brand marketing can achieve

Brand marketing serves to make a brand known, to link it to a certain attitude and values and to create an image. An image or a feeling in the minds and guts of customers, shareholders and stakeholders, which is independent and distinguishes from the competition.

Consequently, creating a brand includes the name, logo, colors, fonts and content that contribute to the brand’s image and put it in the desired context. It is all about creating identification and recognition. A conclusive and interesting story helps: What was the founding moment like? Which problem did the founders want to solve?

Tools of brand marketing are, for example, image ads in magazines. The counterpart to these can be online banners or video ads, although they can be suitable also for direct marketing with different content as mentioned above.

Brand marketing measurements include reach and impressions. The aim is to bring target groups with long-term relevance into contact with brand content as intensively as possible, so that a subtle preference for a product of a brand or for the brand itself is created. This preference is decisive for the purchase decision. At the extreme, one speaks of "my brand" or love brands, up to brands that become synonymous with entire product categories. Which synonym for tissue comes to your mind first, for instance?

The challenges of brand marketing: Success of individual measures or campaigns cannot be clearly measured. For effective brand marketing a company needs two things: a high budget and time. If you want to reach many people (even a sub-target group) and want many people to remember your messages, you have to advertise frequently and continuously, which costs a lot of money. Classic channels are also expensive to book, and it takes a long time for messages to settle in the minds and hearts of customers.

What direct marketing can achieve

Direct marketing pursues another goal: getting the (potential) client to take action. Whatever this action may be, this automatically results in the possibility of measurement.

For example, if a user searches for a solution to a problem via Google, a solution can be offered in an ad in Google Search. Hence, you link the entered terms (keywords) with a tangible ad (or a set of ads), so when you click on the ad you are directed to a target page. The architecture and content of this page is designed to explain the advantages of this solution to the user in a rational and emotional way. In addition, trust is to be built up through seals of approval or testimonials, for instance. At the same time, barriers leading the user away from the site and, in the worst case, away from the competition, are to be dismantled.

Which actions the user should perform depends on the desired results of our campaign. Perhaps the goal is to enable users to get in touch with the company. Then the measures of success are, for example, the clicks on a phone number, the inquiries via contact form or chat, or registration for a newsletter.

In direct marketing, needs of users and target customers are the main focus. The brand and egocentric corporate content that do not address any immediate benefit are in the background, although a strong brand can always be considered as a positive prejudice, and thus it has a supportive effect. The same is true the other way around:

"If you see the optimal solution for your problem or the satisfaction of a need in the products of a brand, you strengthen the bond to the brand and assign positive characteristics to it."

The challenges of direct marketing: Even if you manage to get your measures to trigger an action among users, this does not mean that they will remember a similar problem or need, or that they will be loyal to a comparable offer and not migrate to the competition.

Brand and direct marketing are therefore never mutually exclusive but are two sides of the same coin. Frustration only occurs if you are not aware of the differences and different ways of working:

  • "We have a new design, but we don't get more requests because of it!"
  • "We get new inquiries every day, but when we get follow-up orders, the clients don't remember us."

"So, when you work on your marketing strategies, do not ask yourself about the measure, but about the purpose, and then derive the measures from it."

Would you like to learn more about how Chemovator can support you in marketing your business idea? Then get in touch with us!

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Tim’s Background

Tim is the managing partner of the multi-channel and direct marketing agency MINDACT Consulting & Content GmbH and founder of, a start-up for the development and marketing of artificial identity designs, for example for humanoid robots and chatbots. Tim is a former lecturer at the Fresenius University of Applied Sciences in the master’s program Corporate Communications.

Tim helps his clients to understand and master the complexity of today's holistic corporate communications. There is no silo thinking for forward-looking solutions. His multichannel expertise combines marketing, journalism, digital media and innovation research. The future viability and orientation of companies and organizations depend on the correct implementation of new integrated communications.

Technological change and ever faster innovation cycles represent both a challenge and an opportunity at the same time - Tim is looking forward to exciting discussions with you.