by Tony Fannin, president, BE Branded
Recession. Wild market swings. New competition. You better get used to change. It’s here to stay and I believe it’s the way of global business from here on. What once was “gospel” is no longer always true. Winning companies will act more counterintuitive. They will learn to thrive in a sea of change and get comfortable with being uncomfortable. As one of our recent military Generals said, “If you don’t like change. Try irrelevance. You’ll hate that even more.” The same is true in marketing. If you don’t leverage your brand in challenging times, then you might not be around for the good. Here are a few reasons how I believe brands can, and should, capitalize on any economic condition:
1. It takes less effort – When your competitors are pulling back, now is the time to strike. It will take less investment to be heard because there’s less “noise” out there. You will be able to negotiate some great value-added extras on media buys and placement. There are many studies that show marketers who kept their level of advertising investment the same during economic slow times, was able to gain significant market share when the economy picked back up. They were able to also ride the momentum gained to a greater effect during the high times right after the recession. While everyone else is trying to start their marketing engine back up, they’re already at full speed and pulling away even more.
2. Hard times makes you better – What is true for you on a personal level, is true for the corporate level. Hard times makes you sharper, more focused, and become more creative. A good economy covers many business sins. You can get away with being stupid and still make money (for a while). When the conditions tighten, those who have managed and leveraged their brands and marketing well, will see the results of their discipline and investment pay off. There’s no room for mediocre performance and so-so brands. Just look at the casual dinning sector. The likes of Chills, Applebees, and Fridays are taking a huge hit because their brands reside in the middle and are getting squeezed by McDonalds on the low end and Oceanaire on the high end. (check out Brand Power) In order to take advantage of the economic conditions, your marketing also needs to get creative and bold. You can’t be timid in a world of change.
3. Change bring opportunities – Business is no longer static. Competition comes from all angles and in all sizes. This is truly a case where the mouse can roar and David can defeat Goliath. With change comes opportunities. Companies must look with a fresh view, all the possibilities change brings. It allows brands to reinvent themselves by offering a creative twist on current products or create new markets through unique combination of services. Change allows brands to extend their meanings both wide and deep. The mistake comes when marketers count solely on the physical aspect of the product or service they offer. If you do that, you’re a fad. And all fads eventually go away. Investment in your brand in times of change allows you to reach new markets and customers by being able to add new meanings to what you stand for. The core of what you stand for remains the same, but the form must change. If you get stuck on the physical nature of what you have or your processes, you’re missing the point about leveraging your brand. Brand is not the physical deliverable.
Economic recessions and constant change will become the norm in business life. Learn to embrace it and take advantage of it. One of the most important asset you have is your brand. It’s what stands the test of time and can become an enduring icon in customers’ mind and hearts. These times belong to the bold and to those who refuse to sit back and let thing happen to them. Instead winning companies leverage their brands,make a dent in their world, and accelerate their momentum when the economy swings to the better.