Branded to Last: a Word of Wisdom to Direct Marketers

When building your startup do you ask yourself if you’re building it to last for 100 years, or 5 years?

Both admirable goals, yet founders often treat their marketing in the vein of the later, ultimately with a heavy emphasis on direct marketing.

And who’s to blame them?

By its very nature the Internet’s qualities of being trackable, outbound, and ROI-focused have bred more and more direct marketers.

But if we take a moment to observe companies pre-Internet age: Starbucks, Fiat, Coca Cola, these are companies that have taken decades to be a welcoming squeaky wheel, resonate with their audience, all while staying current with the zeitgeist of the respective decade or generation.

They’ve played the long game.

So what’s the difference between direct and brand marketing and why should you give a fuck?

Put simply, direct marketing is marketing directly to a target audience in hopes of them taking an action in the direction of a purchase. This could be a hopeful customer clicking a display ad or taking a cold call to consider your service.

It’s marketing to the intentional few rather than the massive many.

Where as brand marketing is the subtle artist, the patient practice of creating a name and design that is identifiable, trusted, and unique from others.

Think Warby Parker, a brand that has created such a classic, luxurious, and witty aura that we often forget they’re merely plastic and metal wired around 2 lenses.

As much as we’re all eager to make sales so to stay ahead of the competition or prove massive growth to investors, friends, and competitors, nourishing and building awareness of brand will be the long haul that will pay dividends decades later, rather than playing the young man’s direct marketing ball game.

Thus, a healthy parity is vital.

Yes, everyone is thirsty for growth, but sometimes stopping and asking “why are we here? What’s our mission?” can shed some light onto the longer, more impactful vision.


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