Modern Marketing

Why a recession is the time to double down on brand

August 10, 2022 | 7 min read

As the fear of a recession looms large in many parts of the world, Australia-based David Nemes, regional director of APAC at Templafy, shares why recessions are a great time to reassess brand.

Marketing lessons from recessions

Marketing lessons can be learned from past recessions

It was the global financial crisis of the late 2000s that triggered a rebrand for Samsung to become a more customer-driven innovation company as it doubled down on research and development investments. The investment in brand strategy directly contradicted what all of its competitors were doing – namely cost-cutting – yet the company saw huge gains.

A good brand strategy allows a business to wash away the noise, which then translates to a strong product strategy because the focus is placed on the pieces that are going to resonate with customers. Samsung’s brand pivot was both a short- and long-term success for the brand as it launched its first Galaxy smartphone against Apple’s iPhone in 2009. Today it sits at number five on Interbrand’s Global Best Brands list, compared to number 21 back in 2008.

As Samsung showed, a brand is more than just good marketing – it has an impact on the entire business. Every touchpoint you have with both customers and employees, internally and externally, is part of your brand. Today, a brand is brought to life through content – and with more content being created than ever before, it must be safeguarded to remain consistent.

With concerns of a recession looming, it may be tempting for many companies to re-evaluate their spending to prepare for the worst. However, fighting this knee-jerk reaction and choosing to invest in your brand to meet the needs of customers through a challenging period can be hugely rewarding.

Although uncertainty can pose risks for companies, recessions are a great time to reassess the brand and its place in the market. Your brand is the gateway to connecting and engaging with your customers – especially during uncertain times. Here is what you need to consider to ensure any brand investment is successful, even during a recession.

Create opportunity amid uncertainty

Recessions present a valuable opportunity for brands to reinvent themselves. When recessions hit, customers usually reconsider their priorities, and brands can use this time to strengthen their position in the market and set themselves apart from the competition. By recognizing the risks, and executing a rebranding that aligns with cultural, technological and societal shifts, you can strengthen your business.

For example, Amazon sales grew 28% during the global financial crash by innovating new products that more closely aligned with what consumers were looking for during this time, specifically with their Kindle products. Knowing that customer sentiments were shifting, Amazon needed to make sure its brand was still seen as innovative and worth spending money on. The introduction of new products strengthened Amazon’s brand and position as an innovative company, one that stays on the pulse of societal shifts, consumer trends and behavior. And as such, Amazon customers purchased more e-books than printed books during the Christmas period in 2009. Brands that effectively adapt to changing market needs, like Amazon, can maintain or even revive their image and arise stronger than ever.

While you shouldn’t ignore the health and wellbeing of your brand in a recession, it doesn’t mean a brand shift will be easy. Recessions are a period of tremendous uncertainty, and with that comes risks. There is a need to tailor a brand’s voice, look and stories for an audience that is bigger and more demanding than ever – and in today’s world that work heavily revolves around content.

More than just a logo

Before initiating any brand update, it’s important to chart your path and think holistically about the overall goals, strategies and methods for implementation to ensure that ROI is achieved, and the investment isn’t a gamble. Brand identity is all-encompassing – not only does it include logos and fonts, but also components including the positioning, value proposition and purpose.

All these brand DNA pieces need to be considered and are valuable in building strong, long-lasting relationships with customers – especially during tough economic times where they are more cautious with where and how they are spending their money.

With higher customer expectations than ever before, brands that adopt a holistic and purposeful approach to their brand strategy are more likely to succeed. For example, the position, visual elements and voice a company applies to important topics contribute to how effectively a brand can communicate and connect to its audience. Marketers must recognize that their brand goes far beyond protecting the usage of a new logo design or mission statement. It must be filtered throughout the business and all content consistently.

Consistency is key

With content taking on a more dynamic role in today’s digital-first workplace, marketers need to evaluate how they use content to present a consistent brand identity. And content can no longer simply be classified as meticulously created and vetted marketing collateral – it’s also everything from slide decks created by a sales team to email signatures updated by customer success. Customers expect more from the brands they interact with, and a consistent brand experience is a standard requirement for customers in today’s world. This means there is a heavy burden on all content, no matter the type, to have consistent messaging and imagery.

Marketers who do not activate a consistent brand risk presenting a fractured brand identity to customers, and this may convey a lack of credibility and equity within your customer base. To that end, to aid any brand shift and ensure you present a consistent message, content enablement tools should be implemented. Content enablement solutions intelligently connect content to people and workflows, allowing for employees to create better quality content more efficiently. For example, this could include automating approval processes for content to simultaneously streamline workflows while ensuring it is consistent across the brand.

Although any brand shift during a recession won’t be easy, you shouldn’t stop your plans. Instead, re-evaluate the purpose and how you activate it to ensure its success. Organizations that understand the value of their brand during uncertain times, and plan strategically to ensure brand updates are made throughout content organization, can reap major benefits that will take effect for years to come, long after the recession ceases.

David Nemes is the regional director of APAC at Templafy, a global content enablement platform.

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