Why Performance Marketing May Be Ruining Your Brand and What to Do About it


In today’s fast-paced digital world, businesses and marketers often prioritize performance marketing to generate short-term results, track ROI, and optimize campaigns for quick conversions. However, this approach may be detrimental to your brand’s long-term success. By focusing solely on performance marketing, you may be overlooking the importance of brand advertising and its long-lasting impact on your business.

This article will take a contrarian view to the common performance marketing practices and explore how they may be ruining your brand. We will delve into the works of David Ogilvy, Orlando Wood, Les Binet, Peter Field, Mark Ritson, and Byron Sharp to support our argument. We will then provide a solution: investing in broad-spectrum brand advertising and outline the current problems, why these are big problems, facts, and statistics that back our argument, and how to implement the solution with the right advertising channel selection.

The Problem With Performance Marketing

Performance marketing focuses on immediate results, using data-driven campaigns to optimize for conversions, clicks, and other measurable actions. While it has its merits, there are several issues with this approach:

A. Short-Term Focus

By concentrating solely on short-term metrics, performance marketing neglects the long-term benefits of brand building. As Les Binet and Peter Field note in their IPA study, “The Long and the Short of It,” businesses should invest 60% of their budgets in long-term brand building and only 40% in short-term activation. This balance is crucial for sustainable growth.

B. Neglecting Emotional Connections

Performance marketing campaigns are typically transactional and lack emotional appeal. As Orlando Wood from System1 states, “emotion is the single most important driver of advertising effectiveness.” By ignoring emotional connections, performance marketing fails to resonate with consumers and establish brand loyalty.

C. Overlooking Brand Differentiation

Performance marketing often relies on competitive pricing and promotional tactics rather than building a differentiated brand image. David Ogilvy, one of the advertising greats, said, “Every advertisement should be thought of as a contribution to the brand image.” Failing to differentiate your brand makes it difficult to compete in a crowded market.

Why These are Big Problems

A. Loss of Brand Equity

A strong brand can command higher prices, attract loyal customers, and generate long-term revenue. Byron Sharp, in his book “How Brands Grow,” emphasizes that brand building is crucial for businesses seeking to grow market share. Over-reliance on performance marketing can erode brand equity, making it difficult to sustain growth.

B. Inefficient Marketing Spend

Performance marketing can be an expensive approach, with high costs per click and competition for ad placements. As Mark Ritson, a well-known marketing professor, points out, “A short-term focus means you’re spending too much money on the wrong things.” This inefficient spending could be better allocated to long-term brand building initiatives.

C. Missed Opportunities for Long-term Growth

Focusing on immediate results leads to missed opportunities for long-term growth. As Les Binet and Peter Field found in their study, businesses that prioritize brand building over short-term activation experience 60% more growth than those focused solely on performance marketing.

The Solution: Broad-Spectrum Brand Advertising

To address these problems, invest in broad-spectrum brand advertising that resonates with consumers and differentiates your brand. This approach should include:

A. Emotionally Engaging Messaging

Create campaigns that evoke emotions and build connections with your audience. As Orlando Wood states, “emotionally engaging ads are more likely to be remembered, shared, and generate long-term business effects.”

B. Consistent Branding

Ensure consistency in your brand’s messaging, visual identity, and tone of voice. This consistency

C. Targeting the Right Audience

Identify and target your core audience while also reaching out to potential new customers. As Byron Sharp notes in “How Brands Grow,” “brands must be easy to buy and easy to find, and they must continuously reach all buyers in the category.”

D. Balancing Long-term and Short-term Goals

Allocate your marketing budget with a focus on long-term brand building, while still maintaining short-term activation efforts. This balance, as Les Binet and Peter Field suggest, is vital for sustainable growth.

Implementing the Solution: Advertising Channel Selection

Choosing the right advertising channels is crucial for the success of your broad-spectrum brand advertising efforts. Consider the following factors when selecting channels:

A. Reach

Select channels that allow you to reach your target audience effectively. Byron Sharp emphasizes the importance of reaching “all category buyers” to grow your brand.

B. Engagement

Choose channels that promote engagement and create emotional connections with your audience. Remember Orlando Wood’s assertion that “emotion is the single most important driver of advertising effectiveness.”

C. Cost Efficiency

Consider the cost efficiency of each channel, focusing on those that offer a better return on investment. As Mark Ritson advises, avoid allocating too much of your budget to inefficient marketing tactics.

D. Consistency

Ensure consistency across all channels by integrating your brand messaging, visual identity, and tone of voice.

The Effects of One vs. Multiple Channels

Using multiple channels can amplify your brand’s reach, improve audience engagement, and increase marketing effectiveness. According to Les Binet and Peter Field, multichannel campaigns are “more effective and more efficient than single-channel ones.” However, it is essential to maintain consistency across all channels and allocate your budget wisely.


Performance marketing, while useful for generating immediate results, can be detrimental to your brand’s long-term success. By focusing solely on short-term metrics and neglecting emotional connections and brand differentiation, you risk eroding your brand equity, inefficiently spending your marketing budget, and missing opportunities for growth.

The solution lies in broad-spectrum brand advertising that prioritizes emotionally engaging messaging, consistent branding, and targeting the right audience. By carefully selecting advertising channels and balancing long-term and short-term goals, you can create a robust brand that generates sustained success.

Heeding the advice of David Ogilvy, Orlando Wood, Les Binet, Peter Field, Mark Ritson, and Byron Sharp, you can shift your marketing approach to prioritize brand building and create a more substantial, enduring impact on your business.

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