Reframe brand as ‘future demand’


Marketers shifting budget into performance tactics should heed the experience of start-up digital brands that hit a ‘demand ceiling’. According to former strategist and author James Hurman, writing in a new WARC white paper, building brands is crucial to maintain what he calls ‘future demand’.

Why it matters

A combination of economic volatility and the shift to digital commerce has seen communications budgets shift into performance marketing. Marketers are struggling to make the case for brand-building activity (broad reach, building emotional connection), in part due to the measurability and apparent efficiency of performance tactics.


  • Brand-building can be considered the creation of future demand. Future demand, argues Hurman, is created when new customers become aware of a brand and add it to their consideration set.
  • Converting existing demand with performance marketing is predicated on targeting customers already in the market. Creating future demand requires the targeting of customers who aren’t already in the market, by standing out with engaging advertising, and creating an emotional connection.
  • Start-up tactics have limited effectiveness for mature brands, for whom there isn’t that pool of pre-existing demand to efficiently convert.

Killer quote

“Deciding how to steward a brand by emulating the approach of a sector with a 0.1% success rate is ludicrous.”

This article first appeared in

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