These are challenging times for any business or organization: Demand, consumer confidence, and spending are all down. Unemployment, discretionary income, and competition are all up.
SO Let’s start by asking, what is a recession? It can be an opportunity. A recession is a period of economic decline that leads to a focus on value, a period during which every BRAND is tested. And, only the strong survive. A BRAND can help you survive a downturn…
So, what is a BRAND?
Your BRAND is everything--the things you communicate to key markets. By definition, a BRAND is whateverthe stakeholder thinks of when he or she hears “your name.” A BRAND is a space in the mind, that you put there and you own…
From a BRAND standpoint, an organization has to try to control everything. Everything an organization does reflects on the BRAND for better or for worse. Every decision should be filtered through the promise of the BRAND.
· A BRAND is:
an unwritten contract of intrinsic value.
an expectation of performance.
a covenant of goodness with its users.
an unwritten warrantee.
a mark of integrity.
a presentation of credentials.
a mark of trust and reduced risk.
a collection of memories.
a space in the mind.
A BRAND can and must be more than the sum of these parts.
The sum of these definitions translates into sustainable customer loyalty. Brands are about relationships, not transactions. You add up transactions in cost per thousand. You add up relationships in cost per one. Focus is like courage: it doesn't work in half measure. A BRAND that wants to be a little of everything will eventually amount to nothing.
Recessions can force change for the better– lending a resilience to Brands.
Many of the world's top 100 Brands are more than a century old. Pepsi and Coke are two Brands that have been around for over a 100 years. They survived the Depression.
Recessions are BRAND killers.
We are reliant on BRAND power when we make a decision, if we stay at the Four Seasons, we let everyone know, if we stay at the Budget Inn, we keep it to ourselves. So, a strong BRAND survives, because of the value of its promise and a weak BRAND, shrivels in the recession.
A strong BRAND motivates us to spend, and helps us to define who we are.
Weak Brands are easy to forget, because Recessions call for an increased focus on value. All Brands get a wake up call to look at the kind of value they are providing consumers. We pay more for BRAND we identify with, Diet coke versus Market basket cola….
Let’s face it: we are exposed to a lot of Brands every day, every hour, from Stonyfield, to Ford, to the Red Sox and Concord Hospital. Today, there are more than 1.4 million trademarks registered in the U.S. alone.
So, just makes a strong BRAND?
Logos are not Brands, no matter how much they cost. This is more than a name, or an image, or even a place. It is a concept, and a preference. Tap water is free to most, but Evian water can cost almost 80% more than a Coke. To build a BRAND is to create an image in the mind of an audience that leads to a preference to a product or thing.
So, What is the Value?
The exchange consumers make with a good BRAND makes perfect sense:
The BRAND offers comfort, trust, convenience, and identity in a complicated world. In return, consumers give the BRAND their loyalty over another product.
This is a very pleasant state of co-dependence that every company should work to achieve.
And, it is mostly immune to price sensitivity: I will drink Diet Coke as long as I have a choice: I identify with Diet Coke…
The best Brands, like the most interesting people, have a keen set of beliefs, or promises.
For every BRAND that loses its way because it fails to keep its promise fresh, another loses its way because it fails to keep its message consistent.
One place, one theme, one identity.
Not competing messages that are overly generic or bland promise
Hey, we all face a million temptations to obscure, dilute, or confuse our BRAND promise .
A strong BRAND makes tough decisions easier.
A strong BRAND will inspire the people on the inside.
The people who work for good Brands derive a sense of belonging, direction, and purpose from them.
Brands can use this period of insecurity to make assurances of value as well as other reassuring signs that give the consumer confidence and build on their affinity to the BRAND. The moral support that is provided by a BRAND today could go a long way towards building lasting bonds with the consumer.
Recessions are tough times for everyone and the travel industry often finds it tough to face the pressures of receding bottom lines. AND, RECOVERY TAKE A LONG TIME TO SET IN. Character is tested greatly during recessions when cash flows are restricted and sales are much lower than usual. Years of hard-earned BRAND equity can evaporate. Operating within the confines of the Brand’s mission, vision and values can be tough.
Often the best way to get through a recession is with the knowledge that the power, promise and value of your BRAND can get you though if you use it wisely. The companies that survive this pressure will find success through a strategic perspective - the recession will go away but the BRAND won't. So not make decisions that will impact the long term standing of your BRAND.
The bonds that Brands build with consumers in these times through strategic price reductions or value additions are powerful and distinguish a BRAND from low cost generics.
Thinking long term is important for Brands.
Brands with a strategic perspective come out of recessions stronger and the weaker Brands fall by the wayside - the ability to display character and focus on value provides the difference between success and failure.
Tough times don't last, but tough Brands do.