Creativity and brand in a challenging economic landscape

15 Nov 2023

Why you should think long term about your brand through economic uncertainty

Should you be thinking long-term when economic challenges rear their head?

As we approach a challenging winter into next year, it's tempting to put long-term strategic thinking on the back burner, "we've got to survive, we've got to get through it" echoes through Zoom calls and meeting rooms about marketing budgets for the year ahead.

During these challenging times, (as we've seen with Covid) brands can cull their services, quality and customer service to name a few, in favour of maintaining a margin, shareholder obligations or simply out of survival.

It's completely rational to cut your cloth when cashflow, runway or general liquidity starts to become a concern, and not just a barrier to better things. So we rein things in, we slow our spending, we look for "low-hanging fruit", and any number of other challenges to kick down the road for when things are straightened out.

This approach comes with risks, it changes the culture of a company from a level of visionary and long term planning, to one of tactical, short term and misdirected action.

Maintaining a focus on the long term, including through brand and creativity is not just beneficial but essential, even during downturns, and here's why:

1️⃣ Sustaining Brand Equity:

A consistent brand identity, message and effective storytelling are crucial in retaining loyalty and trust with your people, investors and customers. This can be your beacon during market fluctuations, VC's being more cautious with their investments, and any other hurdle you need to get over.

2️⃣ Competitive Edge:

When others cut back, your continued investment in brand and creative can set you apart, providing a competitive advantage that's hard to replicate, make the capital that people are willing to spend worth it by being the best and most engaging you can be.

3️⃣ Customer Engagement:

Keeping the conversation going with your customers is vital. Understand their evolving needs to stay relevant and resonate with your market, especially if you can empathise with their challenges, too.

4️⃣ Long-term Relationships:

Build lasting customers. This approach often leads to higher retention and brand loyalty, invaluable in any economic climate. This might mean you take a less transactional approach to converting customers, but one that favours the length of time the opportunity can serve you. This also lets you innovate with your product that much further, with customers who trust you to work in their best interests.

5️⃣ Internal Morale and Alignment:

A clear brand direction can inspire and align your team, fostering a sense of purpose and unity, hiring new staff in a downturn is expensive and risky, particularly when morale is difficult to keep up, losing key staff who are central to steering the ship to competitors is not a position you want to find yourself in.

6️⃣ Strategic Resource Allocation:

Investing in your brand during a downturn can lay the groundwork for future success, ensuring sustainability and growth, it's one of the few times when there is time to pause and look at your organisation and if it is going to be relevant in a year, two, or five years from now.

7️⃣ Building Resilience:

A strong, recognisable and distinct brand can help your business weather economic challenges and bounce back more quickly compared to one that has leant into survival mode and has compromised on the things that made them special.

8️⃣ Maintaining Trust:

Clear and consistent brand communication is key to maintaining stakeholder trust in uncertain times, disappearing off the face of the earth will concern your customers. Manage your resources to prioritise that engagement, referral or lower risk acquisition strategies.

A downturn is not just a challenge; it's an opportunity to reinforce your brand's value and prepare for future growth when the times are less lean. Stay strategic, stay creative, and most importantly, stay focused on the long term.