Every economic downturn is different so there is no template for handling this or the next crisis that comes along – especially when it comes to brand strategy.
However, there are patterns to human behaviour that remain the same. These patterns – which reflect the way all of us as consumers react to a downturn and how we prioritise – are a useful prompt to reviewing our brand strategy from a customer perspective.
Nearly all businesses are having to make economies and the obvious move may be to cut brand assets (talent, services, communications) and compete on price for market share.
Survival and success stories, however, often lead back to brands that look carefully at how differently people around them are behaving and realign themselves through innovation to satisfy changing needs and priorities. Here is a simple checklist to help refocus brands in a downturn:
- Alarmed – vulnerable and hardest hit
- Concerned – resilient but worried
- Secure – comfortable to ride it out
- Live for now – worry later
How they prioritise:
(based on Harvard Business Review model)
How brands can respond:
On the innovation side, there have been great examples recently from owners and managers who quickly grasped the reality of genuine needs and behaviours and have proved that innovation will create new revenue streams or enhance existing ones.
From food boxes, cooking classes and home delivery using streamlined menus to retailing food, merchandise and wine and converting restaurant space into groceries and delis; Searcys is a smart example of how innovation has been used to enhance existing products – such as afternoon tea at Blenheim Palace and other venues; these have been relaunched as high value pre-sell al fresco packages with enormous success from day one.
In a different sector altogether, The Hollies Care Centre has responded to the heightened sensitivity in the needs of applicants since the pandemic; the new Garden Suites and Apartments being introduced this year will provide a reassuring sense of safety, own space and privacy.
Taking inspiration from the above, here are a few tips from past successes to help innovate within your brand strategy and create new revenue streams.
- Streamline products: focus on what people need and will buy now
- Make your brand accessible: in the home and on site
- Reduce complexity: to avoid any sacrifice in quality
- Differentiate on price: add value in new ways; don’t race to the bottom
- Double efforts to build trust: no compromise on safety, hygiene and fairness
- Connect emotionally: be honest and show you’re on the customer’s side
Finally, be ready for your downturn exit:
Refresh your brand to reflect the change in human needs, because whilst businesses are putting customers under a microscope, their customers are looking at brand behaviour more closely than ever.
At IM London, we’re here to help you with any of your branding needs. Drop us a line or connect with us via Whatsapp if you’d like to speak about your brand strategy.
When was the last time you undertook a brand audit?
Having a strong brand is essential for your business. If your branding is not generating value, you are compromising opportunity.
A brand audit becomes a brand investment:
Any investment into your business will be rigorously considered against a set of parameters and ROI. A brand refresh or undertaking a rebranding initiative is very often considered when a business reaches a milestone. For example, when reaching 10, 15, 20 years in business, or when a new CMO/COO joins the company, presenting reason to rethink the status quo or to make improvements to the brand image.
Whilst these can make for sound courses of action, there is a more analytical approach required to well-rounded brand management.
Brand performance should be assessed and evaluated on a timely basis to ensure that your branding is in line with your vision and values, relevant to stakeholder groups – both external customers and internal – and consistently experienced across all touch points.
The significance of strong, relevant branding:
A powerful brand will inspire and engage your audience and ultimately increase conversions and sales. A strong, consistent brand retains customers and requires less spend to attract new ones. A powerful brand also cultivates referrals and commands a premium.
However, an inconsistent, irrelevant and or disconnected brand will not achieve desired results such as these.
What is a brand audit?
A calculated approach to brand management should involve regular brand audits. A brand audit, often termed a brand health check, is a thorough examination of a brand’s current position in the market, against the competition, providing a review of effectiveness. A comprehensive brand audit will reveal new growth opportunities for your business, and new ways to make your brand resonate with both existing and a new generation of target customers who will represent your brand’s long-term future. Even seemingly successful brands need a regular brand audit or health check to keep them on track to reach their goals.
In short, a brand audit will assess and evaluate the performance of your brand against a series of criteria including:
- Relevance to achieving your business vision and reflecting your established business values
- Your relevance in the marketplace to stakeholder groups – especially your primary target audience
- The integration of your brand’s visuals, services and products in relation to customer experience
- The consistency of your branding across all customer touch points.
A brand audit can be scaled to any business size, sector and customer base, and can be as thorough as required. Most importantly, undertaking a brand audit will deliver solutions that can be transformed into actionable results. Gaps in your branding will be identified (or not!) and investment into your rebrand, brand refresh or customer experience application efforts can be efficiently focused and tailored.
Keeping branding relevant and on track is important in driving brand value and relevance. Similarly to any other asset, your brand requires managing diligently through application, monitoring, evaluation and maintenance.
At IM London, we love branding and pride ourselves in being experts in maximising our clients’ brand value with strategic execution and considered creative solutions. If you need to assess your brand performance, need support with a brand audit or are looking to undertake a brand refresh, we’d love to speak to you about your branding goals.
Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org!