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Brand Response – The Answer to the Art v. Science Debate

The effectiveness of great marketing is built on both art and science.  Achieving the perfect balance between these two areas creates memorable campaigns that achieve commercial results.

It always surprises us how few companies and agencies consider the importance of both these elements when developing campaigns. People tend to hold a strong belief in the power of art or science and as a result neglect the other.

Traditionally, a brand advertising agency would be biased towards the power of art to drive results. They’d talk about the ‘big idea’ and look to break the mould with their insight-driven ‘right brain’ thinking. They’d celebrate the long-term value they were creating through their differentiated and distinctive brand campaign. With a nod to science, an ad agency might test a selection of their initial concepts within research groups to identify a ‘winner’ – although the results could sometimes be ignored regardless. This reliance on gut-feel and creativity has borne results of course. Who could forget the Cadburys Drumming Gorilla – once voted the “Nation’s Favourite Ad”?

Then you’d have the below-the-line agency. A very different beast to the aforementioned brand ad agency. Typically, they’d tend towards the commercial – focusing on how they could affect the short-term sales numbers. They’d adopt direct response techniques evolved from the world of data and behavioural science – crafting their DM or promotional material to ensure they elicited maximum response. Of course, some of the more enlightened would try to cloak their ‘dark arts’ in a strong, integrated creative idea – as long as it didn’t obfuscate the end game – response and results.

The truth is that neither of these approaches is right in isolation. As is often the case, the perfect solution lies in a combination of the two approaches. It’s a model BURN has adopted since launching back in 2005 and which is sometimes referred to as “brand response”.

Essentially, you start by creating a big, campaignable idea based on insight (be that research or data analysis) to support and build the brand. Then you execute the idea across multiple channels using proven scientific techniques of persuasion and engagement to ensure responses are generated.

At BURN, we’ve created a number of tools and frameworks that ensure the right balance between awareness and response; between long-term brand building and short-term sales.

Our “Spidergram” approach to idea generation ensures our big ideas have “legs” (if you pardon the pun) and can be elegantly carried across multiple channels, whilst our “Engagement Framework” and “Proven Creativity” research methodology bring a scientific approach to channel execution to ensure we maximise response.

So, what are the advantages for client-side marketers of using a ‘brand response’ agency to create campaigns?

Greater efficiency

It’s far more efficient to create communications that both build the brand and drive response than it is to run activity to achieve these objectives individually. Some media owners also offer discounts of between 30 and 50% on Brand Response campaigns versus traditional brand campaigns too. So, you’ll find yourself with the flexibility to test new initiatives or push more budget into the best performing channels and improve commercial returns.

The best of all worlds

Brand Response specialists have the expertise to deliver against whatever objectives the company has at any given point in time. It gives you the best of all worlds and avoids you constantly looking for new agencies to answer particular specialist objectives.

Better integration

One of the weaknesses of a multi-agency approach is that it inevitably generates greater fragmentation of the core creative idea. With one team leading cross-channel marketing and tasked with achieving multiple objectives, you can be sure of tight integration in your campaigns – leading to greater impact and efficiency.

Easier management

Instead of having to spend time managing two or more agencies, a good Brand Response agency will have the capability to do everything for you. That’ll free up more time of your time to spend on the things that really make a difference such as planning and strategy.

Clear responsibilities

If you work with a Brand Response agency, you don’t need to worry about blurred roles and responsibility. Since you’ll only have one agency driving both the brand and sales metrics, it’s clear where the buck stops.

So, why don’t all clients opt for the Brand Response approach? Well the answer is simple. There aren’t that many agencies with this capability. If you Google “Brand Response agency,” you’ll find it brings up a relatively small number of specialists who can harness both art and science to maximise return on investment, in the short and long-term.

And BURN is proudly one of them.


To find out more about the benefits of using a Brand Response agency like BURN, contact us today.