Branding In A Post-Funnel World

How brand strategy needs to change for our new paths to purchase

Branding has always had its place throughout the purchase funnel, but the funnel has changed and it’s time that branding changes, too.

In the old funnel model, the stories and narratives of a brand evolve as people move linearly down the funnel, and the more perceived value and emotional investment a brand can create as people reach the bottom, the more likely the purchase and loyal the customer.

Yet as we know, the funnel isn’t linear anymore for most Gen Z and millennial consumers. It’s now an endless loop of inspiration and exploration.

By way of influencers, a nascent social shopping scene and general information overload, millennials and Gen Z are skipping a lot of the brand connection that used to happen before conversion, and instead shifting it to after conversion.

When 50% of global consumers say they do most of their brand research after they buy, an even greater 78% say they uncover things that attract them to a brand and make them loyal after purchase, and pre-purchase is increasingly dedicated to price and feature research, it’s clear that post-purchase is where real branding begins.

But you’d be hard pressed to find many brand leaders that prioritize post-purchase branding in their own companies. It’s time we changed that.

In my newest article published in AdAge, I explore why the greatest opportunity for brand building is increasingly happening after the first sale is made, not before it.

And that means new rules for making sure your brand is connecting with your user.

Careful Pivots

Here's what we've been consuming.

Nicotine's Glow Up (The Business of Women): "With its mint-like packaging, vapey flavors and names, these nicotine pouches—alongside gum, lozenges and more—are sold as a way to chill, focus and feel better. In fact, “&Chill” “&Focus” are some pouch product names in the UK. The vibe evokes upscale edibles, fresh breath and more self-care than rebellion... Zyn Girlies started on the more conservative side of the sociopolitical sphere... But it’s quickly mainstreaming past the red state aesthetic and into other female spaces."

Meetings are now your culture carriers (Priya Parker): “The art of virtual and hybrid gathering – when we are not all in the same physical space – is the ability to create psychological togetherness […] It’s easy to get frustrated with hybrid meetings. And they’re increasingly important. When people can work from anywhere, and some are in the office, and many are remote, the primary way we now experience each other is through meetings. It's time to get good at them.”

‘Carefluencers’ are helping older loved ones, and posting about it (Seattle Times): ““I decided to document us because I felt it was important,” Punsalan, 30, said. “It’s not only for me to be able to look back on, but I also slowly realized that it was very helpful for people who have been through a somewhat similar situation.” Punsalan, who has over 2 million followers on TikTok, has created content out of tending to his grandmother’s bedsores, cooking her breakfast and sharing the products he uses to tend to her needs.”

A Time We Never Knew (After Babel): “There is a beautiful and melancholic word I like called anemoia. It means nostalgia for a time or a place one has never known. This is a sentiment I often sense from my generation, Gen Z—especially in recent years. I see it in the YouTube videos of old concerts that get millions of views. I see it in our fascination with polaroids, vinyls, vintage cameras, and VHS tapes. And I see it in our reaction to gut-wrenching videos about how life has changed.”

Meet the ‘professional namer’ who directed Accenture’s $100 million name change: ‘It’s the best job in the world’ (Fortune): “What makes a great name? Shore points to three key characteristics—that it’s inspirational, differentiable, and, of course, legally available. “I have feelings about names when I see them—whether I want those feelings or not,” he said. “I can’t turn it off.””

[BONUS] I’m finally on TikTok talking about how real brand strategy works, my favorite advice for brands, the argument dilution effect, my talk with Rory Sutherland, and being different not better.

Incremental Gains

Quick hits of insight in socially acceptable places.

Warm Memories

Creative inspirations for the other side of your brain.

Just like you, my team and I were recently discussing how AI is going to replace certain parts of labor, but its worth remembering that oftentimes when new tech shows up, labor behaves in weird ways.

Or as Tom Vanderbilt puts it, “When technology changes people, it is often not in the ways one might expect.”

I’ve written before about the strange ways in which culture wraps itself around the future, and how technology can only go as far as our biases will let it.

The washing machine had the potential to liberate housewives from the home, but instead it freed them up to do the work their housemaids once did. Women ended up doing more domestic labor.

Though the technology changed, the idea behind a woman’s role had not.

Predicting the future is fundamental to your brand strategy but not as easy as it may seem. The correct signals often get lost in the noise of invention.

Futurists of the 1960s predicted online shopping, but not female financial independence.

They predicted emails, but not remote work.

They predicted microwaves and other kitchen technology, but did not predict that fewer and fewer people would be eating around a dinner table together.

Ideas, not technology or invention, are what change the future most, and that is what you should be betting on.

The future isn’t new technology. The future is changed people. Your brand should be placing its bets on who we will become.


Jasmine Bina
Founder & CEO
Concept Bureau