Is This the Decade of Branding?

yellow cutout with letters that spell branding

The wide range of marketing skills and talents fall into two categories of people, Marketing Creatives and Marketing Technologists. Marketing creatives include branding specialists, designers, creative directors, content writers, and copywriters.

While the creative side of marketing has always been critical, technical and analytical skills became more important with the rise of digital marketing. Digital marketing requires logic and the ability to analyze numbers to make actionable recommendations. This work, done by marketing technologists, is what I call left-brain marketing. The skills include:

  • Technical SEO
  • Data Analysis
  • Setting up marketing automation logic
  • Enabling data flow between CRM, email marketing, and the website
  • HTML and CSS web development skills

These left-brain skill sets have seen increasing demand and have gained an increased share of marketing budgets. This has left commercial printers to fight for a piece of an ever-decreasing part of the budget.

But will these digital marketing skills soon become a relic?

Increased Constraints on Digital Marketing

Rand Fishkin, a much followed digital marketing and founder of SEO company Moz and now the CEO and Founder of SparkToro, writes in his blog post titled Provable Marketing Attribution is a Boondoggle; Trust Your Gut Instead:

“The effort to create (and then maintain) those high-fidelity tracking systems will cost 10X+ more than the value generated from them.” Rand continues; “For the 99% of readers whose businesses are <$50M in annual revenue, I don’t think you’ll get a positive return on those investments. I believe you can get better results by trusting your gut and doing the work vs. attempting to measure it all with mathematical precision.”

There is an increased awareness that you can’t measure every critical marketing activity. According to Robert Rose, chief strategy officer of The Content Advisory, the philosophy of “if you can’t measure it, it doesn’t count” is complete nonsense. [Souce: Do You Really Need To Measure Your Content’s Impact on Brand Value?]

Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), implemented in 2018, has led the way to restrict the use of personal information for targeted marketing. The same year the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) was passed. It is inevitable that the federal government will place more restrictions on the collection, purchase, and use of personal data. This will reduce digital advertising precision and make it less effective.

Technology companies themselves are restricting the use of personal data. 3rd party cookies are the technology that enables targeted advertising on social media platforms and display ads that follow you around the internet. 3rd party cookie tracking has been disabled by default in Apple’s Safari and Mozilla’s Firefox browsers. More importantly, Google keeps threatening to remove 3rd party cookie tracking from the Google Chrome browser.

These changes are having a major impact on digital marketing. Apple’s privacy changes alone have cut $278 billion in revenue from four tech firms.

The Increased Importance of Brand Building

The pendulum is swinging back from an over-reliance on digital marketing back to increased recognition of the importance of branding.

Social and political upheaval is putting pressure on companies to take sides on social issues. This requires companies to take a hard look at what they want their brand to stand for.

Building brand awareness is an important goal for high-performing marketing companies. According to a recent Content Marketing Institute survey, 80% of B2B marketing companies met ‘create brand awareness’ goals using content marketing, but only 42% said content marketing helped them achieve their revenue goals. Despite the lack of direct impact on content marketing, 66% of companies report that the content marketing budget will increase in 2022 compared to 2021.

The Opportunity For Commercial Printers

The swinging pendulum will not bring back the pre-internet days with print taking a large portion of the marketing budget. But do expect print to take a more important role in many marketing strategies and an incremental larger share of the budget.

A brand’s written words and graphical appearance can be communicated on digital channels such as your website and email marketing. But the emotional impact of the two-dimensional digital experience is limited. The shift to an increased focus on branding is good news for commercial printers. Print, whether it’s delivered in direct mail or a leave-behind after a sales meeting, is held in customers’ hands. Engaging the sense of touch provides direct physical interaction with a brand.

The way printed collateral feels is an important element of a brand. It can be smooth coated paper, more gentle feeling uncoated paper, or the printed product can have a soft-touch coating. Is the branding full of bright colors, or is the brand more organic? Is sustainability an important brand consideration? Print provides physical contact with the brand that provides a more emotional connection with a brand than a flat two-dimensional screen.


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Tod Cordill has worked in a variety of industries including software, manufacturing, printing, and eCommerce. He currently helps B2B companies integrate digital marketing channels into existing sales and marketing efforts by combining his P&L perspective with an engineering problem-solving structure. Get in touch and learn how Moderno Strategies can help you efficiently drive business growth. Connect with Tod: @todcordill on Twitter and on LinkedIn


One Response

  1. Although I continue to build our digital campaigns, they are to augment direct mail. Print is more durable and therefore can create multiple interactions without adding cost. Using QR Codes, regular or personalized, adds another opportunity to engage customers. And Informed Delivery adds yet another. These provide traceable metrics that don’t strain your budget. Optichannel brings it all together with direct mail, email, text, and social media. Ensure that your brand is consistent throughout all the channels.