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Brand Marketing in a Recession

Posted on 1.28.2009

If you turned to this page in hopes of finding inspiration, you’ll likely not find any. You won’t find the standard “when the going gets tough, the tough get going.” What you will find, what you will hopefully take away is the belief that brands are the most valuable of assets and that those companies with healthier, stronger brands will be the ones most profitable, regardless of economic climates.

We need to remind ourselves of the strategic value of our products, services and yes, our brands. We must hold fast in the belief of long-term profitability instead of hard to measure, immediate market share gains. Every business, from 2.0-style social networking sites to local boutique clothing stores and every Web enterprise in between must focus on investments in brand equity and not solely on marketing expenditures.

Clearly, the biggest challenge is to assure ourselves that sustained branding efforts will provide the deepest value to our enterprise further down the road of success. It might not happen today, perhaps not even tomorrow. But when things turn around (and they will), your business will be in a much better place because you and your organization wholly made that mental shift; where the bottom line isn’t nearly as important as the relationships you build with customers, partners and the Web world.

The arguments for continuing to spend in a weak economy are tried and true and based in economic realities. Your competitors will spend less — should you decide to maintain your marketing spend, you have an excellent opportunity to gain market share. Opportunities also arise in that new entrants (consumers don’t simply disappear) switch to less expensive alternatives — perhaps your own. Consumers may grow conservative but they don’t vanish.

The best way to convince ourselves of continuing to spend in a recession is by thinking of brand marketing as a sustained effort; as returns are cumulative and they compound. Building brand equity can be thought of much in the same way as building a retirement fund — slowly and cautiously. Those who keep their cool when everyone else is panicking will win.

There are, of course, shifts in strategies that must be implemented. Consider co-promotional strategies to leverage relationships. Negotiate down existing terms for lower rates, remnant space and volume discounts. Connect with your consumer base through social networking, bookmarking, shopping and review sites. The list of ways to save without losing brand equity is limitless. While it might take a little more effort to unearth such opportunities, the long term payoffs will prove to be exceptional. Recessions are also prime times to identify new target markets, use new promotional methods to reach them, and adjust positioning in a way that is more in line with the new environment — economic, psychological and beyond. Define or rediscover the core values of your brand. Move forward with innovative strategies to reach new audiences and keep your message consistent. Focusing on your brand and its value proposition to the consumer will provide a much-needed focus, and the ability to make the most of your marketing spend. And that’s something you can get behind no matter the economic environment.



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