I'm conflicted between brand (Nike style ads) and direct marketing (FB ad talking about how awesome your product is and telling people to buy it now). Direct marketing has made us the most money so far, but there must be a reason why big companies are doing brand marketing. What percentage of your marketing strategy should be brand vs direct marketing?
It depends on the stage of your business. If you are at the beginning, spending money on brand advertising is a sure NO.
Which doesn't mean you shouldn't aim to build a brand... Building a brand is always good, it increases the value of your business allowing you also to sell it if you decide you want to exit and start something else.
Spend money on direct marketing, test and refine what works and test new, even cheaper avenues. And build your brand without investing money in advertising, start with defining the mission & main story of your business, its key values them creating a memorable identity- logo, main colors, main fonts, templates for all marketing materials, activities, channels, tagline that captures your brand essence, and finally making sure you are consistent using the above tools. Branding also takes a lot of time but as long as you are consistent and you do a good job with the elements above, you will be on your way and you won't need to spend money advertising it.
Obviously the more unique the business story & brand elements, the higher your chances to achieve brand awareness and recognition faster.