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TRA TV Takeaways: Brand Building and Future Demand

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In a nutshell

  1. Investing in brand building is integral to create future demand for your business.
  2. Use broad reach marketing to create brand awareness and mass market surveys to measure your success.
  3. Download TRA's guide to essential brand and creative metrics to see how on track you are in creating and harvesting future demand.

We’re digging deeper into brand – how to build it, how to measure it, and why it’s integral to your success.  

In the latest episode of TRA TV, TRA’s Head of Strategy Carl Sarney sat down with James Hurman – brand expert, founder of innovation company Previously Unavailable and author of Future Demand.  

The 45-minute discussion covered almost everything in the world of brand building, including the concepts of existing and future demand, the best metrics to measure impact, and how to use the language of demand to get buy-in (and investment) for brand building from your business or organisation. 

Don't have time to watch the full episode? We’ve pulled together the key takeaways: a list of the 10 most important factors all businesses and organisations should keep in mind when shooting for success. 

Read these key points below – watch the full livestream here – and for more in-depth insights, download TRA’s latest guide to brand and creative metrics. 

1. Understand your existing and future demand 

Businesses can separate all their consumers into two distinct categories: those in the market ready to buy today, and those who are not, but may enter the market in the future. James Hurman has titled these categories ‘existing demand’ and ‘future demand’.

“There’s the existing demand, which is people in the market ready to buy right now, and there’s future demand, which are people that will come into the category at some point in the future – they’re not ready to buy yet, but they will be at some stage,” James explains.

“What’s really critical to grow long-term sustainable growth for any business is to be harvesting that existing demand that’s in the market, but also to build out our future demand.”

It’s clear: if you’re a business that wants to grow sustainably and long-term, then you need to pay attention to future demand.

“If we are adept at making our brand familiar to large groups of people and then also showing up at the point where they’re ready to purchase, and making ourselves available at that point or compelling at that point, then those are the companies which grow the fastest.”

2. Rebalance your budget to create future demand 

The evidence shows that the long-term success of companies hinges directly on their ability to create a strong and memorable brand – one that remains in the minds of consumers not yet ready to buy.

However, James asserts that most businesses continue to get this balance wrong by massively overspending on short term returns, neglecting the fundamentals of brand that will reap them longer term rewards.

“The rule of thumb is that we tend to spend far more of our budgets on the short term, these days anyway, than on the long term.

"Most of you out there are probably spending too much on harvesting existing demand and not enough on creating future demand.”

James is keen to urge all businesses to ignore the temptation to cut for efficiencies, as while this may look like a quick, easy way to increase ROI – you’ll often pay the price for it later.

Ultimately, short-sighted investment can only lead to short-term growth – brand-building is worth the investment.

3. Build a rapport with your future customers 

In this busy world, we have very little time to make an impact. We know that building an emotional connection with our consumer is important – but how do we do that in 30 seconds? (Or 10? Or 3?)

Future demand can help.

By building pre-existing familiarity or connection to the brand, you’ve already started the rapport with the customer before the ad has even begun.

As Carl describes, you can think of building rapport as creating a good first impression - and second, and third.

“I think of shopkeepers I’ve encountered that do this really well. You do end up buying from them because of things like – the way that their shop is laid out... [You’re asking] is this my kind of shop? Is this for people like me? Do I identify with this brand or the shopkeeper? It does pull you a little bit further towards them.”

“It takes a long time becoming familiar with and connected emotionally with a brand,” James agrees. “It’s something that never happens over one execution. It always happens over repeated interactions with that brand over a lengthy period of time.”

“The job that we really have to do when we’re talking about future demand is to build familiarity, build our emotional connection, do things which delight them, do things which they notice and which make them feel good about your brand and remember your brand.”

James and Carl talk about brand building in front of neon lights

4. Take advantage of familiarity bias 

Our brains are primed to seek out familiarity, and to feel uncertain or unsettled by new or unfamiliar experiences. We gravitate towards things that we’re familiar with, even if another option is objectively better.

This is called familiarity bias – and it’s powerful.

 “We still have this very strong reptilian response to things that are unfamiliar... So part of the game is to ensure that we limit the ability of our reptilian brain to be scared off by making our brand or whatever it is we’re selling a really familiar thing... Building brand familiarity makes us feel safe about a choice.”

“In marketing, that means that people will buy an inferior product from a really familiar brand more readily than they’ll buy a superior product from a brand that they’re not familiar with.”

That’s right – even if a product is worse than its competitors, familiarity bias often remains the trump card.

When viewed this way, investment into brand-building truly is an investment into the behaviour of future customers.

5. Remember the power of popularity 

No one exists in a vacuum – this is true of our customers too.

One key factor to keep in mind when marketing our brand or product is the people that surround our consumer – or as James puts succinctly:

“We’re not talking to just one person, but to all the people around them.”

It’s important to remember that people’s perception of brand consists of not how they feel about that brand, but also how they think other people feel about that brand.

That's why we are influenced by social media buzz, celebrity endorsements, or queues for a new product launch. When we see others liking a brand, we are drawn to like it ourselves.

“It’s actually more difficult to choose a brand that we feel personally connected to and trusting of, but we believe everyone else strongly dislikes that brand, because it says something about us.”

“Part of advertising, particularly broad reach brand advertising is not only about selling yourself to that one person, but it’s about giving them a sense that everyone else has seen this too, and everyone else understands this. And so when I pick up this beer or when I buy this pair of shoes, I know people aren’t going to look at me funny and go ‘Why did you do that?’

6. Boost existing demand in the future 

Without future demand, we can only expect success for as long as our existing demand remains. However, investing in future demand will not only increase brand awareness – it will also make harvesting existing demand easier in the long run.

“When we build future demand, we’re making life much easier for ourselves next year.”

“We’re putting ourselves in a position where the short-term stuff, the performance marketing that we do, is going to work a whole lot better because we’ve spent the year priming the market to respond to that short term marketing much more readily next year.”

Of course, James is keen to stress, the opposite is also true.

“If all we do is the short-term stuff, then what’s going to happen is we’re going to get to next year and we’re going to find the performance marketing doesn’t work quite so well because we haven’t done that sort of important job... If we sacrifice the long term for the short term, what we’re doing is really short-changing our future selves.”

7. Reach a broad audience 

So now we understand the important of future demand – how do we build it?

Here, James emphasises the importance of repeated occurrences – moments of connection with your brand – ideally to the broadest audience possible.

“What we need to be doing when we’re building future demand is reaching really broad audiences. Mass media, particularly television, is a very good way of doing that. But not everyone can afford that.”

If large-scale TVC’s aren’t quite in your budget, there are other ways to achieve broad-reach marketing – including social media. You may just have to think creatively.  

“If we want to stand out, be remembered, and form a connection with people, then it’s much easier to do that with something that’s really original and engaging and beautifully crafted than with something that doesn’t have those same creative qualities.”

Make sure to optimise your campaign for broad reach – and work to get your voice heard as far and wide as possible, as often as possible. It’s these moments of connection that will create familiarity in your consumer and secure them as future buyers in your category.

8. Measure demand differently 

How we build future demand differs greatly from how we harvest existing demand – and the same is true for how we measure it.

“The way that we measure how well we are harvesting existing demand is through our performance metrics, through our short-term efficiency metrics. How much are we spending? How much are we getting back in sales?

However, that data tells us nothing about how we’re building future demand. For that, we need to look to surveys and brand tracking.

“There’s no better way that we know of, at the moment, than going out and doing statistically-significant surveys of the population to understand something like awareness.”

Mass market surveys give us the opportunity to get to the heart of future demand, helping us to answer questions like Are we growing our awareness? Are we growing our consideration for our brand?

“[These questions] are a good sort of proxy for understanding that yes, we’re managing to reach more people. We’re putting them in a position where they’re aware of us, where they would consider us.”

9. Use TRA’s Brand and Creative Edge 

With TRA’s guide to Brand and Creative Edge metrics, we help you to understand if you're on the right track to build future demand.  

display of blue brand and creative guide metrics book

As Carl puts it, “we can measure things like: is this a brand for people like me? Or how familiar am I with it? Is this a brand that has a clear purpose? [Do I] know what role this brand serves in my life? And also just – do I like the brand?”

As James describes: “Your Brand Edge metrics point towards familiarity, towards some kind of emotional warmth or connection, and towards some sort of understanding about what that brand stands for and what it does.

“We build those things up in people’s minds even though they’re not pulling the trigger and buying at that point, because if we know that we’re doing that, then we’ve got some degree of certainty that when they come into the category later, they’re going to remember that stuff and they’re going to gravitate towards us.”

The guide also includes how to measure good creative that will resonate and create a lasting connection with your future buyers.

10. Be a marketing science communicator 

You understand the importance of building brand for future demand, and you know the best way to measure it. However, you may come across a final hurdle: securing buy-in from your C-suite. That’s where the final strength of the future demand concept comes in.

Marketers and advertisers will likely feel comfortable with terms such as mental and physical availability, performance marketing and brand salience... But the people we’re trying to get investment from may not. The terms future and existing demand are much more tangible and easier to grasp to people not enmeshed in marketing terminology.

“For any marketer, board, exec team, finance team – how do we make sense of the things we know to be true to those to people that don’t have the same depth of knowledge as we do?

“For those people that aren’t marketers, and aren’t interested in the same sorts of things that we as marketers are interested in, it all comes back to relating marketing to how a company grows.”

Think of yourself as a science communicator – translating complex terms into simple ones. By describing buyer behaviour in terms of existing and future demand, we can make sense of brand building in a tangible way that our organisation is much more likely to understand – and ultimately, invest in.


Want to know more? For more in-depth insights on brand and creative, download TRA’s latest guide to brand and creative metrics. You’ll also have the option to receive updates on our latest brand and creative thinking, direct to your inbox. 



headshot of Carl Sarney, Head of Strategy at TRA
Carl Sarney
Head of Strategy at TRA
Carl has 20 years of insight industry experience. He is specialised in brand and comms strategy with a proven history of effective work for his clients, including several gold awards for advertising effectiveness. His research work has taken him to just about every town in New Zealand to speak with people from all walks of life. He's also conducted qualitative research in eight more countries while based in London for two years and spent seven years as an ad agency planner before joining TRA in 2018.

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