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Building a Brand Advertising Campaign

Shae Henrie

Content Strategist @ AdRoll

Topics Covered:

Imagine customers were served two ads by two different companies selling the same product. 

The customer doesn’t recognize one of the companies, and the company ads are unremarkable. The promotions could’ve been torn directly from a page on marketing best practices — they play it safe with little differentiation. 

The other company is one that customers have seen around a lot. This company’s advertising speaks to customer pain points in a way that suggests they’ve studied the customer journey — the ad speaks to their audience. 

Obviously, customers go with the second company. The difference between the two is brand advertising.

What is Brand Advertising?

Brand advertising tells a brand’s story over promoting any single product. By emphasizing brand over individual products, you teach customers to associate your company with particular values and qualities.

In turn, these qualities differentiate you from competitors and help you connect with your target audience. This differentiation from competitors is crucial in establishing a strong connection with the target audience, making it a pivotal aspect of any successful branding endeavor.

What are the Key Elements of Brand Advertising?

Fostering trust

The mere exposure effect ensures we prefer things we’re exposed to more often. In this case, creating several touchpoints with your brand means customers prefer it over your lesser known competitors. 

Familiarity fosters trust — that’s why the brands you trust the most are probably the ones you’ve interacted with a lot.

Establishing a long-term relationship

Brand advertising focuses on the long term by emphasizing story over product. That means a company isn’t trying to create campaigns only about their latest products; they weave those products into an overarching story about the brand. 

Focusing on the customer journey

Because brand advertising is about relating to customers, it requires intimate knowledge of the customer journey. That way, you can advertise on the channels and platforms where your audience congregates, using messaging that speaks to your customer personae.

Full funnel emphasis

Customers don’t buy immediately, which is why advertisers need full funnel marketing to reach their audiences at each stage. Brand advertising nurtures funnel touchpoints that direct response advertising might miss.

When Should You Use Brand Advertising?

Brand ads can work for anyone. However, not everyone has the budget to focus on long-term gains, which can ultimately cost them opportunities. We recommend you consider branding at every stage, but these are the opportunities for which brand advertisement is particularly effective.

New brands

Starting fresh is the perfect time to begin with a plan in mind. It’s tricky, because your idea of the customer journey is all theoretical at this point, but establishing a clear brand from the getgo will have your customers recognize you quickly in a sea of competitors.

Enterprise companies

Larger companies typically have a larger budget, and that means more room to invest in long-term payouts like brand advertisement. 

When you’re enterprise, it’s particularly important to focus on brand safety. As your name spreads, your audience will have more criticisms, which is why clear branding and vision can establish your message and maintain loyal customers.

Ecommerce businesses

The ad landscape is competitive in ecommerce. Sometimes, ecommerce transactions feel isolated, but branding retains focus on your full product line, which creates recurring customers.

YMYL companies

“Your money or your life” companies like financial services, healthcare companies, and nutritional companies all benefit from a brand focus because fostering trust is essential. 

You’ll rarely find customers willing to hand their money over to unaccredited businesses at a first touchpoint with YMYL companies.

How Is Brand Advertising Different from Direct Response Advertising?

Brand advertising works like most other ad campaigns: you establish an objective, create assets, run the campaign, and analyze and iterate on your findings. The difference with branding is your objectives and analysis may require different processes.

The opposite of a brand campaign, a direct response campaign, runs with the objective of driving action. For instance, you'll want to know the product or services you're selling really well, create assets that match your brand’s style to showcase the product, and measure how many people ultimately purchased the product.

Brand advertisement succeeds with better visibility, positioning, and qualitative customer research. 

Brand ads are usually scoped for reach: CTV and billboards are two platforms that might make their way into a branding campaign but not a direct response ad campaign. These platforms reach thousands of customers, often without clear CTAs embedded into their content. The objective of branding is being visible to the right customers.

In addition, how you measure and research branding success is different from direct response campaigns. Your objective for direct response is usually clear cut: whitepaper downloads, form signups, button clicks, and so on. These are quantitatively tracked. Brand advertising, on the other hand, requires asking real customers what they think of your ads.

How to Create a Successful Brand Advertising Campaign

It’s clear your branding approach will differ from direct response marketing. But don’t fret! Much of the work you do to craft a sound marketing strategy also applies to brand advertising. Let’s go over how they play into branding.

Cohesive brand strategy

As with any successful venture, begin with the ending in mind. A brand strategy (often immortalized in artifacts like the brand charter and style guide) clarifies your goals. Your brand strategy should answer these burning questions:

  • What’s our brand’s goal (besides making money)?

  • What’s the narrative behind our brand?

  • What values do we share as a brand?

  • How does our brand stand out from competitors?

  • Who is our target audience?

Reviewing these makes it easier to create branding campaigns.

As an advanced stage of your brand strategy, you should be developing ICPs and customer journey maps. These steps help you see where you can refine a brand charter — do your ICPs and brand goals align? Does a typical customer journey align with your values (for instance, efficient and timely)? Let your findings inform each other.

Clear voice and tone

Having a consistent brand strategy also includes having a consistent voice in all your messaging. Roll this into your discussions on brand strategy to craft a style guide. Your style guide should include clear instructions:

  • Give examples of tone you should use and avoid

  • Be a source for treatment of all common terms

  • Give the company stance on messaging for all platforms

Creative positioning

If you don’t stand for something, you’ll be lost in the sea of competitor lookalikes. This is a step many brands fear for offending or repelling their target audience. That’s why it’s so important to nail down ICPs before this stage — the right audience will get what you’re going for.

Like you would your product, run some creative decisions by customers to see how they feel. While your team may have an idea about how creative assets will impact your audience, you’ll want to be sure you’ve exacted the desired effect.

Building community

Make customers feel like they’re part of something greater. Brand advertising adds to a conversation — you can also host that conversation by sponsoring events, building online communities, or sharing your knowledge with others.

What Are Some Examples of Brand Advertising?

Once you notice the role branding plays in advertising, you’ll see it everywhere. These are some tried and true methods.

Celebrity endorsements

Getting a celebrity (or these days, an influencer) to vouch for your brand reaches their built-in audience of fans.

You’re likely familiar with all the sports merchandise and cereal ads of the ‘90s that featured famous sports stars. The goal of many of these campaigns was to reach kids who aspired to be like them, associating the advertisers with their heroes.


Though often the bane of direct response marketing, billboards are notorious for their reach — 90% of consumers have noticed a out-of-home advertising in the past month.

Billboards play into the mere exposure effect we discussed earlier. Customers might take the same route each day, exposing them to your brand and eventually building familiarity with it.

Social media ads

While social media is typically a channel associated with direct response, you can also use it to create customer touchpoints that invite customers to familiarize themselves with your brand.

Your messaging for brand campaigns will differ from the direct response approach to social media. Perhaps you create a TikTok video featuring the type of customer that would use your product (with some key product placement, too), setting the tone and establishing your brand identity.

Digital display ads

Not all display ads need direct response results. Since customers require a high number of touchpoints before interacting with your brand, you can also use them to generate awareness. 

TV ads

If advertisers want a direct response, they’ll usually reach out via mobile device or desktop. Platforms where you can make a decision immediately are best for direct response, whereas brand advertising doesn’t require fast decisions.

TV ads are a great branding strategy. While they typically include calls to action, they’re also played frequently to keep your product top of mind. Modern CTV ads allow you to market directly to a target audience on their favorite streaming apps, allowing you to be more granular.

Event sponsorships

Sponsoring events your target audience cares about is another way to introduce them to your brand. These could be conferences, charity events, networking events, and so on. Visitors typically associate those sponsored events with you, and perceive you as a prominent company.

Are You Running a Brand Advertising Campaign?

Brand ads are just as important as direct response ads. The difficulty is in measuring how effective they are and determining how to reach your audience through them. 

But if you need help, simply think of the most eminent brands you know. Why are they famous and how do they stand out? Brand advertising is what got them there.

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