The Great Debate: Direct Response or Brand Awareness?

Is this still really a debate?

Brand Awareness

Well you wouldn’t think so by now. With everything that Gary Vaynerchuk has pushed out there regarding Jab, Jab, Right hook and giving value without looking for anything in return, it’s a wonder than anyone in marketing would run a campaign without some form of brand awareness involved. Granted there are certain circumstances in which brand awareness is pointless. We spoke with a local company recently who are looking for our help to get their Facebook ads performing properly. While we were discussing what we were going to do for them they kept shooting us down when we mentioned the brand awareness aspect of the strategy and we thought we were going to have to walk away. But when they explained the reason why they don’t want that side of things, it was completely justifiable.

We called someone out!

We don’t tend to jump into discussions on advertising groups unless it’s to share results or seek advice, but this one we couldn’t resist. A user has started a Youtube series making fun of all the awful Facebook ads he comes across. It’s really funny, but the first ad he calls out was called out for all the wrong reasons. It was an ad by a large alcoholic beverage company that was basically just a cool video with no call to action. He was arguing that it’s completely pointless to have an ad that doesn’t link back to your website.

Direct Response vs Brand Awareness

The Big Brands are Big Brands for a Reason

If you think about the biggest brands in the world that we just see as part of the furniture, it’s hard to ignore the effort they’ve gone to just for brand awareness. Before social media came along, the big brands were all over the TV, Radio and Billboards with brand awareness campaigns. Did Coca Cola run ads saying “Buy our drinks, we have a special offer on!” No. They made ads that made you feel thirsty, and made drinking Coca Cola look ‘cool.’ Then the stores that sold the Coca Cola products would run their own ads with special offers on. From brand awareness to direct response, the old fashioned way!

Turning the Old into the New

The modern day spin on this for small to medium businesses is to run brand awareness campaigns on social media to build interest before running their offer. Make really cool images and videos of your products/brand, get some modern day celebrities to start talking about your brand (we’re talking insta-famous!) and start interacting with those people who are engaged. Once you’ve created a big enough buzz, you’ll have a large enough audience to market to!


Re-marketing feels like it’s the wrong term to use here, because you haven’t directly marketed your products yet. But in running your brand awareness campaign you have built up audiences that you can use. Firstly, if your brand awareness campaign was successful there will have been enough interest for you to have had a fair amount of people visit your website. That’s audience number 1. Then there’s the great features of Facebook audiences. Anyone who engaged with your page during the brand awareness campaign can now be targeted. Anyone who watched your videos. They’ve all seen your brand now, they’ve seen your products presented in a cool way that got them interested. Now it’s time to get them over the line!


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