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Tuesday 2¢: Build a Brand, Pay Less Tax

OK, maybe not that tax, but this Tuesday, I share a little bit on that oh so elusive to attribute contributor to sales: Brand.


As is often discussed on my podcast and the podcasts I listen to, with privacy and the big tech’s stranglehold on reaching an audience, having a recognised brand in your category is a multiplier for all marketing efforts (as I also wrote about in this article for Rockstar CMO)

Yet, branding seems like a lost art, particularly in B2B. The obsession has been on the more tangible things that can be measured with the rise of digital and marketing automation. And we marketers have been complicit in this as we struggle for commercial credibility in the C suite and demonstrate we are not just “the colouring in department” but that we make a direct impact on revenue. Brand value is a hard thing to attribute, so we don’t talk about it. 

On his very fine Renegade Marketers Unite podcast recently, Drew Neisser referred to the movie Encanto and suggested that instead of “We don’t talk about Bruno” the song we senior marketers are singing is “We don’t talk about brand”.

However, I recall working with a CEO a few years ago, he was looking for a marketing automation solution for his burgeoning software company. I recommended a couple of solutions based on their needs (including Salesforce integration) and budget, but he wanted Hubspot. 

Despite his key requirements being equally served by other solutions at a much lower cost, he was already emotionally attached to the HubSpot brand, and no amount of objective comparison, side-by-side bake-offs, or TCO models would convince him. Not that HubSpot is not a fine product, but it just wasn’t the solution that would deliver the best value in this situation.

You can then imagine how this deal got attributed by HubSpot’s marketing team.

I imagine that the “first touch” they could connect to the deal would probably have been a search by one of our team. And in the game of attribution, it’s a touchdown for Google PPC or SEO. Not for the brand. 

And this gets me to the title of this post, bestselling author and business professor Scott Galloway describes the gatekeeping role that big tech, Google specifically, as a tax all businesses now need to pay to reach their audience. 

And in talking about his valuation of AirBnB he referred to how their brand was avoiding this tax, as more of their consumers go directly to the site to look for holiday properties than Google. And this was almost a corporate asset, and avoiding this tax reflected well on the company’s financial performance. 

(You can read more about that shift to brand marketing investment from AirBnB’s CFO, Dave Stephenson, in this article in Marketing Week)

Essentially, with a strong brand, consumers seek you out to solve their problem directly, avoiding this tax, not Google their problem and then the successful provider has to pay the Google taxman. 

So, build a brand, pay less tax. 


The artwork was created using A.I. through NightCafe Creator I thought it would make a change from pictures of me 🙂