When things get tight it can be tempting to cut brand building spend and focus on performance marketing that delivers hugely needed short-term revenues.
However, a strong brand is one of the best predictors of success during and post-recession. As HBR explain in their article “How to Market in a Downturn”: “Building and maintaining strong brands—ones that customers Recognise and trust—remains one of the best ways to reduce business risk. The stock prices of companies with strong brands, such as Colgate, Palmolive and Johnson & Johnson, have held up better in recessions than those of large consumer product companies with less well-known brands. Even cash-poor firms would be wise to commit a substantial portion of their marketing resources to reinforcing the core brand proposition.”
However, running to your finance department asking for hundreds of thousands to launch a brand campaign while cuts are being made and the world is in chaos might be viewed as a little out of touch. Instead, try looking at your brand more laterally. Take the time to consider a wide variety of ways your brand can adapt and be a better fit for this new world.
There are many brand frameworks and I’ve always admired Keller’s brand equity model. Keller argued that the basis for a strong brand was salience – the ability to stand out and be recognisable. But brands could build layers of additional meaning, responses and relationships on top of this.
In the diagram, a brand which stimulates high levels of response across the entire pyramid would be considered a strong brand for that customer. By looking across the model, we can see new ways to think about our brand. For example:
Could we be engendering new feelings or judgements, as Zoom are doing by onboarding millions of converts to teleconferencing?
Could we resonate with a different audience, as flexible workspace ‘The Wing’ are by shifting their community-building activities online and using them to support the mental and emotional wellbeing of isolated members?
Your customer’s needs may well be changing, so working out the role your brand plays in their lives is vital. By combining this new brand thinking with customer insights from the last section, we can develop a range of new ideas that could help strengthen customer relationships at this difficult time.