Branding, Thoughts

How to strengthen your brand before, during and after a recession.

By Matt Stansberry

By Matt Stansberry


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With consumer confidence at an all time post-recession high and the Federal Reserve raising interest rates, everyone is asking themselves “what comes next?” Is it even possible to talk about a recession with gross domestic product (GDP) showing record increases and at a time of full employment? Unfortunately, it’s a perverse historical truth that economic downturns are generally preceded by periods of economic strength. This history is what keeps us all on the edge of our seats wondering "what's next?"

What does a potential recession mean for your brand?

Before budgets start to tighten, it’s the moment to invest in your brand. In this state of guarded optimism, there is still time to develop strategies to protect, strengthen, and reinforce your brand.

Stay in your lane

Before budgets start to tighten, it’s the moment to invest in your brand. In this state of guarded optimism, there is still time to develop strategies to protect, strengthen, and reinforce your brand.

Step 1: Make a change?

To effectively stay in your lane, perform a brand audit to see where you may be able to enhance and tighten up your brand positioning.

Photo Credits: John Seymore

Make it Personal

The key to maintaining and building a profitable brand is to successfully create and maintain an emotional bond with your customers. An analysis of nearly 880 case studies (published by the World Advertising Research Centre) shows that ad campaigns that focus on emotional engagement tend to be more profitable than ad campaigns that focus on rational messages, such as low prices or special offers, even in the face of an economic downturn. Before a recession hits, establish a foundation for a strong and emotionally resilient brand. Think of ways to creatively tell your brand story that focus on the narrative and the emotional connection to your customer base. Are your customer touchpoints reflecting your brand promise?

Step 2: Make it right.

Now’s the time to make any necessary brand adjustments. Tighten up your value proposition, evaluate your messaging, and use design to show innovation, creativity, and the spirit and heart of your business – remember, it’s personal.

Enhance existing relationships

Are you creating value for your existing clients? If not, start here. Focus on building deeper relationships with existing customers and spend less time worrying about the customers you don’t have. Your existing customers will become your best and most profitable customer base during a recession. Focus on strategies to increase customer loyalty, create opportunities for referrals, and acquire new customers through word of mouth.

Step 3: Make an impact!

Whether your brand is tried and true or new and cutting edge, this is still a good time to execute a strategic brand rollout with precision. Use all mediums and touchpoints at your disposal, and within budget, to engage your current customers and make them feel the love, and most importantly, experience the value you bring to their lives.

Be brave

Brand building is about playing the long game. Few understand or have the discipline required to build and a maintain a brand that stands the test of time. Our best advice? Be Brave. Brave brands are the ones who stay the course and forge ahead to turn challenges into opportunities, versus those who adopt a wait and see mentality. One example is the popular film streaming service, Netflix, who stood the test of time by staying true to brand promise of “movie enjoyment made easy”. As its customers became more familiar with its brand and the technology that powered it, Netflix found it no longer had to use as many words to explain itself; its meaning, instead, was embodied in “Netflix” and all the brand stood for.

Step 4: Make a commitment

Protect your brand, advocate for it, fight for it, and never forget to nurture it, especially during uncertain times; that’s when your brand will experience the most pressure to lose its true identity but offer the most value to your customers.

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