The Difference Between Branding and Call-to-Action Campaigns

Micheal Smith

Micheal Smith About The Author

July 13, 2020 at 8:55 AM

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Far too many companies execute advertising campaigns via a "shotgun approach." In other words, they indiscriminately spread their message to anyone and everyone, using whatever marketing tools they have at their disposal. However, one of the cornerstones of an effective advertising campaign is a narrow, "rifle-like" approach. Marketing managers must have a clear idea of the goals the company is trying to achieve, and the specific consumer segment that the business needs to reach. Without such parameters in place, it can be very difficult to gauge the performance of any advertising initiative.

One of the most effective ways to hyper focus on business objectives and maximize ROI is to employ both branding and call-to-action (CTA) campaigns.  We will help you understand what each of these campaigns are, when each one is appropriate to use, and the unique benefits that these two advertising strategies can yield.

What is a Branding Campaign?

The primary objective of a branding campaign is not to urge potential customers to take a specific action. Rather,its purpose is to raise awareness of a particular brand.

While branding campaigns are important to the success of any company, they are especially vital for new businesses and startups. They are a key factor in establishing credibility for companies that are relatively new to the market sector. For example, a new business beginning their advertising journey in hopes to get the attention of their target audience could create a commercial to introduce their company across platforms that includes a branded hashtag for their audience to use.

Moreover, branding campaigns are crucial to promoting top-of-mind awareness (also known as "TOMA") within the consumer base. Put simply, TOMA refers to the first company, or brand, that a person thinks of when a particular industry is mentioned. A good example of this would be Coca-Cola for the soft drink industry. TOMA is a subtle but critical influencer on purchase decisions.

Finally, branding campaigns are key to building relationships with consumers. Consistent, regular messaging can  result in brand familiarity, which is a major component of consumer trust. Thus, branding campaigns ultimately contribute not only to customer acquisition but also to higher retention rates and increased customer loyalty and advocacy.

What is a Call-to-Action Campaign?

Call-to-action campaigns are marketing initiatives with a much more specific goal in mind. They  are often product-centric, as opposed to organization-oriented branding initiatives. This type of messaging encourages the consumer to perform a concrete action, which could include:

  • Making a purchase
  • Visiting the company's website
  • Submitting contact information
  • Downloading an eBook
  • Subscribing to a newsletter

Marketers almost always create CTA campaigns with a very narrow focus and tend to leverage subtle psychological elements such as the use of imperatives or FOMO ("fear of missing out") to optimize results. A great example of a call-to-action campaign that entices the consumer to take action with immediacy is when the business announces a new product launch that has limited quantities or will only be available for a limited time. This tactic can prompt the target consumer to want to take action quickly to make sure that they don’t miss out on an opportunity.

How to Choose the Right Type of Campaign for Your Business

There are several factors that a marketer must take into account when choosing between a branding or call-to-action campaign. These factors often include the following points:

  • Currently, what is the company's primary business objective? Determining your goals is the essential first step to solving them.  If a company is relatively new to the market or is striving to maintain top-of-mind awareness in between peak sales seasons, then the implementation of a branding campaign would make a lot of sense. On the other hand, if the main business goal is to promote a specific product and drive sales, then a CTA campaign would likely be more appropriate.
  • Which campaign would be most appropriate for current business needs? Once your goals have been determined, choosing the right tactic is key in meeting them. If a company's sales team needs help to meet monthly or quarterly quotas, then a sales-oriented CTA initiative would be a viable option to supplement their efforts. Of course, if an organization is gearing up for an annual sales event that drives a large percentage of its business, then paving the way via increased market presence (e.g., through a branding campaign) would be most effective.
  • Where is the target audience presently located in the sales funnel? Consumers that are at the initial awareness stage will likely not respond well to an aggressive CTA campaign. Instead, a branding campaign that focuses on how a product eases specific pain points without urging tangible action would be a better choice. However, as the target audience progresses down the sales funnel through the evaluation and decision stages, initiatives that encourage specific actions will become more persuasive and effective.

Both branding and call-to-action campaigns are important contributors to a company's growth and sustainability. Marketing managers and key stakeholders must examine their organization's current marketing objectives, business needs, and target demographics in order to determine which campaign would be most appropriate at the present time.

Many companies have found that teaming up with a reputable, experienced media partner can streamline the entire analysis and execution process. A trustworthy media company will not only help you to decide which type of campaign would yield the highest ROI under certain circumstances, but they will also guide you through the steps of developing and implementing the campaign you choose. With such expert assistance, you'll no doubt enjoy optimal results from your marketing efforts, no matter the type of campaign you choose.

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