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A Is for Apple, B Is for Brand

Hey, direct response branding bandits! How often are you challenged to provide ROI data for your marketing verticals? To realize branding success in a DR marketing initiative, a multichannel integrated strategy needs a “must-touch” moment, multiple times, in multiple ways. Is this challenge brand design or boardroom design? It may be both.


In contrast to the ease of direct-to-consumer retail product marketing and advertising, DR branding initiatives must be clearly identified and tested for conversion. If you can’t guarantee the consistency of the message and the consumer doesn’t experience every touchpoint, the likelihood of conversion and ROI is low.


Proving ROI can happen only when the message’s consistency is supported with many repeatable touches. At ERA’s D2C Convention last September, many of the education panels mentioned this concept, referring to it as “branding engagement.” They identified the following key performance indicators as a necessity for branding:

The relevancy of this information reveals a shift in the stages of the consumer life cycle. Whereas lifetime value metrics and average order value (AOV) were decision-makers in the past, they are only indicators today. So, how often do you change the formula for ROI? Have you learned to challenge the results? Is there a paradigm shift in the mix that can drive visits, impressions, eyeballs, and conversion to increase your revenue, uphold the brand, and at the same time increase AOV?


The Case for Kale

Metrics aside, branding is the look and feel of a product—its design and delivery. Sometimes, a brand is something as simple as a vegetable. At a dinner party I attended recently, the conversation turned to kale. One of the world’s healthiest foods, this vegetable has a long shelf life and extremely flexible use. For years, it was eschewed as a poor man’s staple, however. No more!


Kale became the new “it” veggie with foodies a few years ago, with celebrity aficionados such as Gwyneth Paltrow and Ryan Seacrest. It popped up on restaurant menus, in smoothies, and as baked chips. Chef Bobby Flay helped make it a household word, and at a grassroots level, a 2001 branding initiative included a T-shirt that read, “Eat More Kale.” The next time you want to brand something, check out kale.


The success of a marketing strategy lies in testing, revising, and establishing the proper offer model.


Branded engagement requires different measures in DR, however. Engagement can’t just be about joining the conversation; it must be a proven vehicle for response rates dependent upon the marketing strategy. Is it better to launch a campaign with digital (print to digital to retail) or with DRTV (DRTV to digital to radio to retail to print)? The  success of either strategy lies in testing, revising, and establishing the proper offer model.


Digital analytics must follow these assets (i.e., television, print, or radio) in order to drive increased Web exposure, and the timing of an integrated campaign needs endurance. Landing pages and electronic shopping carts will sit dormant if media doesn’t drive eyeballs to them. Multichannel integration is more of a marathon than a sprint, and all facets of operations and logistics must support the marketing team for ROI.


According to a Forbes valuation, Apple has been the World’s Most Valuable Brand for the past three years based on earnings and relevance. In 2013, the brand was worth $104.3 billion, up 20 percent from the prior year. Apple attributes its brand success to design, which touches every product and every consumer with the same look and feel. To quote Mark Parker, the CEO of another top brand, Nike, “Without embracing design, how can you ensure evolution of business? Design must be in the boardroom.”


The challenge for brand and DR marketers is to cross-pollinate design and innovation for robust ROI. The moment has come for us to incorporate branded response to integrate all touchpoints on every campaign, driving conversion with carefully designed creative. Whether an Apple or a vegetable, response and ROI depend on multichannel marketing and multiple, branded touchpoints for consumer consumption.



Fern Lee is the CEO of THOR Associates, a New York City-based brand response marketing agency that provides strategy and multichannel implementation to produce ROI. Contact Lee via email at [email protected] [1]