When economics are in a squeeze, consumers scrutinise the money they’re spending. Surprisingly, they’re not searching for the lowest prices – they’re looking for the best values. Dig your heels into that notion and your branding efforts will take flight, even during an economic recession.
One company that has exemplified the power of branding during an economic downturn is Ann Summers, a leading women’s pleasure retail company in the UK. This brand has proven itself to be an expert in stimulation – branding and otherwise.
A Branding Lesson from Jacqueline Gold of Ann Summers
In a Director article, Sarah Nicolas sat down with Ann Summers' chief executive Jacqueline Gold to discuss how she managed to gain a commercial edge during this, an economic recession. It seems that Gold saw a golden opportunity: whilst the majority of enterprises ducked and lay low, she took the opportunity to renovate their branding by researching what consumers thought was being done right (and wrong), modernising its approach, redirecting messages toward women, and rechristening the company as high-end (as opposed to back-room).
Some might consider this a risky branding move, but Gold has no regrets. Her branding efforts raised the company to the same levels as luxury, discretionary purchase companies and pound shops. Next, she’s expecting to expand the Ann Summers website, followed by a focus on international reach.
The Ann Summers brand listened to customers, who were saying the brand had lost its edge. Rather than hiding her head, Gold hit the pavement and made some fundamental branding moves. Her branding wasn’t fearful of the recession – it embraced it.
How you can Leverage a Recession for Branding
One of the primary tenets of branding is that the consumer’s pain must be felt, acknowledged, and remedied. This is true of those problems that your product solves directly, but it’s also true of those pains that it relieves in an indirect manner.
In slow economic times, when consumers are more careful with their spending, use their frugal mind-sets as pathways through which to communicate the overwhelming value of your brand. Even if your brand isn’t the most inexpensive, How to Build a Brand recommend that you make it evident why your brand is the best investment.
Branding demands that you view every client as an asset that will appreciate – and when times are tough, the last thing you’ll want to do is dispose of assets. Price-slashing, quality-cutting, and significant spending reductions will result in the loss of clientele. If you can leverage your branding power in the area of value, you will not only retain your existing clients in these tough times, you will attract new ones with your value message and with referrals from your loyal customers.
Remember why recessions endure – it’s the fear of spending by the consuming public that deepens the rut.
Let’s start to think like Jacqueline Gold and other branding giants. This is the time to take consumer distrust in all things economic and replace it with trust in your brand. Consumers are more critical than they were ten years ago; however, they are also more willing to commit to a brand that quells fears and delivers the value they’re looking for.
Will you be that brand?
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