When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Brands Get Brave

“How do we keep the lights on?”

It’s the question brands never want to face. But it’s a crossroads that most will come to, whether during the normal ups and downs of a changing market—or due to a crisis. Either way, brands must consider how they’ll retain who they are while profiting enough to stay in business for years to come.

Your Most Valuable Asset

It’s easy to think your brand’s most valuable asset is its ability to catch the audience’s eye and convert sales as quickly as possible. But your brand’s very identity—who you are, why you exist, and how you deliver on it—goes much further.

Think about the brands to which you are personally loyal. Why do you buy what they sell? More importantly—do you buy from them no matter what? Brands build loyalty by conveying who they are in a deeply relevant, solutions-oriented way. They hear your need and respond.

Audiences stay because they feel and experience the benefit the brand brings to their lives, and they believe it’s worth their investment. That belief doesn’t necessarily disappear when times get tough; in fact, many consumers will look to your brand to come through and deliver on its promises in those moments more than any other. It’s then when you must nurture who you are and what you are in the minds of your customers with even more dedication and enthusiasm.

What About Short-Term Solutions?

When consumer habits change for any amount of time, your brand will feel it—and short-term solutions will seem like the best course of action. Though it seems counterintuitive, brands who continue long-term brand building efforts during times of change often see their market share grow. The savings your brand might get from cutting marketing efforts in the short-term can be wiped out by your loss of market share in the long term.

There are many short-term solutions for driving demand, but nothing undercuts your brand more than a sale. Unless your brand is strictly sales-oriented, a sale can devalue who you are and what you mean to your audience. When you use your brand’s unique megaphone to shout sales, customers may buy—but will they return? And if they do, what will their new expectations be? Remember who your desired customer is and communicate who you are with them in mind. One-time shoppers are valuable, of course, but it’s loyalty to and advocacy for your brand that you want.

Alongside a meaningful, consistent experience of your brand’s values, thoughtful reactive tactics can contribute to long-term success—as long as they don’t become a substitute for ongoing, big-picture brand strategy.

Investing in Hard Times

 It can be challenging—and even scary—to embrace and lean into long-term brand strategy. But reinforcing your brand’s value is just as important during times of crisis as it is during times of stability. Real security can come from your audience knowing who you are and can even help you withstand the next difficult season—because even if your offerings and/or your audience’s needs shifts, who you are remains consistent.

It takes bravery every step of the way, but no one knows the value of your brand and can steward it better than you. Use that to step into your audience’s world—even in hardship—and let them know who you are. It’s more than letting them know you’re here to serve; it’s acknowledging their specific need and responding with ways you can make it easier. When you do that, your brand has a greater chance of weathering hard times better than competitors.

Making Moves

 Though times of hardship might make your marketing decisions feel more urgent, balancing long-term strategy with short-term adjustments will be something your brand encounters every day. That’s why it’s important to partner with a marketing agency that understands the value of your brand and business and offers creative strategists to help you through every up and every down.

At GS&F, we believe in long-term brand building. Our unbiased approach means we’re always keeping the audience first. Once we understand what they want, we can match them up with what your brand offers—we call it brand authenticity. That moment what you do and what your audience wants intersect. And we can find that in times of stability—and when the rules get thrown out the window.

We’d love to get to know what sets your brand apart and shout it from the rooftops. Want to know more about how a marketing agency can help you move the needle? Get in touch here.

Garrett Lyon, Senior Strategist, contributed to this post.

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