MindFire Communications, Inc.
Branding during an economic downturn
June 1, 2009 | Inga Rundquist

A recent EquiTrend study by Harris Interactive revealed that when the goin’ gets tough, consumers tighten their grip on brands they are loyal to, instead of gravitating towards the product with the lowest price.

This is not surprising. It’s natural to want to stick to what you know, as opposed to buying something that may be cheaper but perhaps not as good.

What does that mean for branding? Strong brands don’t have to play the price game during a recession. However, don’t be tempted to sit back and keep doing what you’ve been doing all along.

  • Look at your positioning line and determine if it is in tune with how people are thinking. Address the economic challenges by positioning yourself in a way that will resonate with consumers. Hyundai has done this recently with its Hyundai Assurance program.
  • Make your brand accessible. Unilever did this during the 2002 economic crisis in Argentina, when it sold its Skip laundry brand in small packages, which carried a lower unit price. They also introduced economy sizes that offered people a better deal.
  • Maintain your brand promises. As pressure mounts, it can be tempting to save money by cutting back on the quality of products and services. Beware! A disconnect between what you promise and what you deliver can provide your competitors with an opportunity to gain ground.
  • Your existing customer base in more important than ever. Keep them happy and reward their loyalty.
  • Look at where you’re spending money and determine if there are ways to spend "smarter.” Does it make sense to spend 70% of your budget on 30-second TV spots? Are there other ways to connect with your customers?

A very wise man (Horace Glasow) once said "If the world is cold, make it your business to build fires.” Horace – you took the words right out of our mouths! Strategic investment and careful monitoring of your brand is critical in both good and bad times. It will help you navigate the volatile environment and come out on top.

And remember, your arsonist friends are always here to help!

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