In this issue, we welcome a new writer to our house band, Carmine Mastropierro, an accomplished marketing writer who debuts with his take on the theme of this issue, the balance between creativity and data-led decisions with this classic example.

Right now there is a tug of war happening in business.

Who is it between?

Brand focused marketers and big data oriented companies.

The first emphasizes creating a product and reputation that’s remembered for ages.

The second pushes creativity and branding aside to leverage data for fast growth.

Both have their strengths and weaknesses. And, if there’s one business that’s proved you can scale with creativity and branding first, it is Apple.

Apple is one of the largest companies in the world. Think about it. It has a $1 trillion market cap and generates over $260 billion in revenue.

It doesn’t stop there. Consider the lines around the block for the latest iPhone or AirPods. Bluetooth headphones are not new, yet everyone wants them now that Apple has released a pair. That ability to change consumer behavior and culture is the result of branding which also has the power to change the world.

Don’t believe me? Let it soak in that consistent branding across all channels increases revenue by 23%! Yes, you read that right.

Have you ever taken a good hard look at Apple and how it markets its products? It emphasizes the product, its impact, and also has a creative edge. The advertisements are often cheeky, artful, and high-end.

Then you have the opposite: businesses that focus purely on data-driven marketing campaigns. There is very little heart or passion found in their advertisements.

Let me explain why I believe Apple has focused so much on branding and the results it has generated.

Branding builds relationships

Why do people love Apple? Or Nike? Or any other brand for that matter? It’s because of the brand. And that is the experience, emotions, and everything they experience by being a customer. This is why it takes 5-7 brand interactions before a consumer remembers a brand.

Consumers need to see your content, advertisements, and hear about these things from others. Big data and heavy analytics won’t get you there. Sure, you need it after. But, creative campaigns will get you remembered and trusted in the first place to properly leverage data.

Branding allows you to be creative

What is branding? It can range from anything like a logo to a slogan or a giant campaign. Think about Apple’s most famous campaign for the Macintosh in 1984. Steve Jobs was a creative genius.

If you haven’t seen it yet, the commercial ran during the Super Bowl and showed a woman in an Apple track uniform. She ran through a dystopian and dark world ruled by a giant screen (A.K.A Big Brother) and mind-controlled drones.

The woman runs up to the screen and throws a hammer, destroying it and freeing everyone from their trance. This couldn’t have been better timing. The novel 1984 was very popular at the time and made many people nervous about adopting technology and how it would affect privacy.

Text ran on the screen stating: “On January 24th, Apple Computer will introduce Macintosh. And you’ll see why 1984 won’t be like “1984.”

Oh, and that campaign generated 3.5 million in sales the next day.

You can still use data, just not be obsessed with it

Don’t get me wrong. Data is phenomenal. Heck, how would you know what you’re doing is working, otherwise? You don’t want to run campaigns and not know how they are affecting sales or other KPIs.

But here’s the cool part about brand-focused campaigns: they let you be creative first. The first thing running through your head is designs, ideas, characters, and other elements that focused more on the customer. What do they want? What would they like to see? How do you create a delightful experience?

Then after all of that, you can use the collected data to improve marketing, budgets, and other business activities. For instance, businesses that use data experience an 8-10% increase in profit, on average.

Wrapping up

I believe that every marketer should look up to Apple. It has produced some of the world’s most successful products and advertising campaigns. It is also a prime example of the level of success that can be reached through great branding.

After all, a brand is remembered, trusted, and spoken about. That improves customer retention, lifetime value, and referrals.

You rarely see Apple push a product or try to sell it hard. It knows that everyone loves its products, they’re proven and they work. So, Apple would rather be remembered. It gets our attention and naturally sales come with that.

However, I’m not saying you don’t need analytics or data. The opposite. The best choice is to use both.

Flex your creativity muscles and have fun. But don’t forget to track campaign performance, traffic channels, and KPIs. They are key to optimizing campaigns and learning what works to replicate later.

What do you think matters more? Branding or big data?

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