Advertising and other marketing campaigns can have many different objectives - for instance, increasing brand awareness, changing brand perceptions, increasing emotional connection with the customer, transforming customers into brand advocates, or driving sales.
However, the key distinction I want to make is between brand building advertising and advertising that sells. The latter usually includes an offer or a promotion and always includes a strong call to action. Whereas the former generally does not include any of these elements, but rather strives to do one or more of the following:
- Build brand awareness, increase the brand's popularity (most ads for new products and brands)
- Help the customer to pronounce and remember the brand's name (GEICO's gecko, Slinger's allusions to Swingers)
- Increase emotional connection with the customer (Hallmark's Hall of Fame commercials, Dove's "Real Beauty" campaign)
- Establish the brand as a badge (Apple is for smart sophisticated people, Luminox is for highly competent people, FootJoy is for serious golfers)
- Communicate key brand benefits (Liberty Mutual's accident forgiveness, GIECO can save you 15% or more on car insurance, Snickers satisfies)
- Associate the brand with strong positive emotions (Teleflora ads, Harley-Davidson commercials, many automobile brand ads)
- Give the brand a distinctive personality (Dos Equis' "The Most Interesting Man in the World" ads, Pistachio's elephant, Motel 6's Tom Bodett)
- Romance the product itself (Olive Garden ads, Cinnabon ads, Christian Louboutin ads, many food-related brand ads)
While marketing is a function dedicated to creating demand and ultimately sales for products and brands, brand building ads are designed to create strong emotional bonds with people. They are designed to make brands more admirable and endearing to people. This ultimately leads to sales, brand loyalty and brand advocacy. When a non-marketer gives you grief for an ad campaign that does not include an offer and a call to action, educate that person about the long-term sales power of creating strong emotional connections between brands and people. Some marketing campaigns should be focused on generating immediate sales while others should be reserved for longer-term and ongoing brand building.