Brands & tough times

Brands & tough times

When the economy gets tough and shrinks, one is often tempted to cut prices or strip the marketing budget. You may well have to trim your marketing budget but rather spend time figuring out what you will be doing differently. You could find that you can get away with less but achieve so much more.

Brand strategy review
A brand review or refresh does not necessarily mean that you design a new logo and incur the costs that go with this. What it does need is understanding whether your brand has the right meaning in the market – times have changed for your customers, their behaviour and attitudes have changed. Are you saying the right things? Are you positioned correctly? Well, you need to know. Imagine spending your reduced marketing budget saying things on your website, Google Ads, sales pitches, advertising etc which no longer resonates with your audience. Whatever your marketing budget is, 100% of it needs to resonate with and be relevant to your audience.

Product & process innovation
A decent brand review will give you a good sense of what you need to do next.

Whether you are operating in a B2B or B2C environment, it is never going to be just about price and this principle applies equally in good and bad economic times. How is it possible that, depending on your audience, hundreds, thousands or even millions of people ALL think exactly the same?

So while price is always important to many, others might be more concerned with value, convenience, durability etc. and even the whole experience. Start looking at how your processes encourage or discourage your customers to buy from you. Give them good reasons to come to you other than price. When you start innovating based on customer experience, you will often find that you save money in the processes as well. Go the whole hog and look at your entire value chain.

The old brand mantra of “differentiate or die” is true, especially when companies are dying all around you. Do something different. Say something different. Mean something different. Be something different. But never let your difference lie only in some superficial clever strap line or copy. It must be authentic because that “difference” must be experienced.

The way that you differentiate will flow from your brand strategy into product and process innovation, through your people and into the market. Parallel to this tangible side of the brand will be your communications which tells the story and accentuates the experience.

In its simplest form, picture 10 products in a line. All the same reduced price. How on earth will the customer choose yours. So even if you are price-cutting, you still need to differentiate.

In summary, if you have to reduce your marketing budget then do so but make sure that whatever budget you have available does not pursue same-old strategies as they might not have been right in the first place. Be clear that your brand resonates 100% with your audience. In fact, the principles applied here are relevant for both good and bad times.


Gary Hendrickse
CEO Sherpa

Sherpa Brand & Design Agency
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