Branding and Response -- A Balancing Act.

Authors: Lisa Sarmonpal & Sue Schell

For so many things, we live in an either-or world. When it comes to pets, we’re either dog or cat people. When it’s about wine, we opt for white or red. And here in Chicago, when cheering for our favorite baseball team, it’s either Cubs or Sox.

With television advertising, marketers and their agencies often feel like they have to make a similar either-or choice. Either they create a commercial that builds the brand, or they create one that generates response—clicks, calls and best of all, sales. Reflexively, they think it’s impossible to do both.

In fact, it’s not only doable, but it’s been done. Over the years, Eicoff has created countless commercials that achieve both brand-building and response-producing objectives. The secret is finding the right balance—making sure that creative, media and all aspects of advertising factor in these two objectives.

Recently, we created a campaign for our client, Collette, a leading travel company that provides travelers with tremendous value for their money. They had an existing, one-minute brand-building spot, and they were happy with the branding aspect—it was filled with beautiful travel imagery and inspiring music. It completely sold us on “why we should travel.” It just didn’t sell us on “why we should travel with Collette.” Consequently, the spot wasn’t generating the response they wanted.

Collette's original 60 second branding spot.

We helped them re-create the commercial, expanding it from one to two minutes. We tapped into the consumer insight of how daunting vacation planning can be. We highlighted how Collette solves that by taking care of everything for you. And we emphasized Collette’s differentiating benefits in the category, such as VIP service (i.e. a private car to take travelers to and from airports)—benefits that increased response. We also developed a new media buying strategy.  And throughout the process, we always asked two questions: How will what we’re doing affect the brand?  How will what we’re doing affect the response?

The revised 2-minute commercial with a blend of branding and direct response.

It was a balancing act.  If we became too focused on generating response, we might cheapen the brand. If we leaned too far in the branding direction, we might fail to motivate viewers sufficiently to respond. To keep the effort balanced, we kept examining every move from both perspectives.

The results: We lowered the cost-per-call by 54%, and revenue gains are trending in a positive direction. At the same time, the two-minute commercial not only maintained the quality of the shorter, branding-focused commercial, but it added to viewers understanding and awareness of what Collette offers. And that helps enhance their brand.

None of this would have been possible if we operated on the assumption that you either sell hard or you sell soft. It’s possible to find a balance between the two, and that balance creates synergies: the selling aspects connect to our more rational side while the branding elements appeal to our emotions. With the right mix of each, we are really able to motivate a response.

And as viewers of this spot learned, they don’t have to make either-or choices between price and quality when they travel.  With Collette, they can have both.  

For more info on the amazing trips Collette offers, visit