What Strong Brands Do During a Recession

April 22, 2020
By iQ Staff
Silhouetted person with dog under a vibrant aurora in a starlit sky.

Gone are the days of brands being able to rely on delivering goods and services alone. As companies around the world pivot their business models in order to survive, they’re also taking a look at how their brand values and vision translate in a new world order.

The global pandemic has revealed the interconnectedness of our world. Looking at your company’s business model and the market landscape from both an individual and community perspective can reveal ways to optimize operational decisions and communicate with customers in a relevant way. Research has revealed that companies who maintained strong brand communication with their customers during previous economic recessions saw an increase in sales and market share post-recession, with strong brands recovering nine times faster than the S&P 500 standard.

Whether you’re a small business or a large company, there are things you can do now to maintain your brand equity and create relevance for your business in even the darkest of times.


Know Who You Are

Communicate the values that guide your decisions to your employees and customers. By remaining steadfast in your values, you anchor your stakeholders to a clear vision and value system during uncertain times. Brands that communicate their purpose in a relevant way are seen as authentic and real. They are remembered long after the crisis has passed.


Know Your Audience

Everyone’s situation is different. Part of doing well as a business is being aware of and adjusting to your customers’ various needs, while understanding that everyone shares concerns about what the future will bring.

You can make your customers’ lives slightly easier with a discount or donation, passing along helpful information and access to services, or simply saying something that brightens their day. Uplifting your audience in a realistic and grounded way helps build brand trust.


Get Creative  

Explore new ways of doing things. Think outside the box. Radical creativity and inventive thinking will serve businesses well in an economic downturn. Be open to reallocating funding or resources where they can do the most good for your company and people in the longer term.

The best ideas can come from anywhere, not just your executive team. Establish a way for all employees to provide input. Now is the time to keep your ear to the ground and your mind open.


Don’t Wait — Take Action

Businesses must persevere with courage and ingenuity in order to survive, instead of waiting out the storm. Encourage all your employees to think and operate as an entrepreneur and welcome all new ideas. Explore taking strategic and mitigated risks. If you communicate something to your customers through advertising or communication channels, make sure to back up what you say. Actions speak louder than words.


“In this moment, brands have an opportunity to show customers who they are and what they stand for.”


Cultivate Community

Look for ways you can help out during this time. Cultivate your relationships with your employees, your customers, industry colleagues and your community. This may mean updating your website or growing your social media channels to better serve your customers. It may mean hosting a webinar or livestreaming event to bring people together. If your community is in need and you are in a position to give, do so in a way that reflects your brand values.


Strong brands will prevail

Ultimately, tumultuous times ask one thing of all of us — to change. We are being asked to transform how we live and view the world, to recognize what really matters and adjust. In this moment, brands have an opportunity to show customers who they are and what they stand for, and the ones that react with authenticity and care will be remembered for years to come.


Photo via Viator's #roamfromhome campaign