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Any business leader will know now's the time to get your ducks in a row. We hate to say it, but the UK is entering some tough times ahead, and the impact could ripple across businesses for some time to come.
Diversifying sales strategies, analysing cash reserves, streamlining operations, reviewing employee retention - these are all steps we're accustomed to taking during times of crisis. But one thing many businesses let slip through the cracks is their brand.
Designed to build trust and demonstrate value, increase market strength and customer loyalty, your brand is the cornerstone to your business. Think of it this way: we all remember brands that have gotten it terribly wrong, and probably better than those who have gotten it right.
So if you're adapting your strategic direction and work streams without adapting your brand, you could be risking your business' performance and security. By simple, effective adjustments to your messaging, creative, and tactics, you could strengthen your connection with customers and help protect your business during a time of uncertainty.
Here's why - and how.
Your brand is your North Star
Every business leader knows the risks of halting marketing activity during times of crisis. Without good marketing, your market presence (and value) begins to diminish. And so does your business' relevancy.
During the 2008 dip, this mistake was rife. It may have been a knee-jerk reaction to economic anxiety and a way to 'save resources', but businesses that cut spend on brand efforts ultimately did more harm than good to their own bottom line and long-term success.
Whether your company was operational during the '08 downturn or not, there's a lot to be learnt from this. Your brand heavily influences practically every work stream. So if you're adjusting your streams, you need to be adjusting your brand to reflect that. They're not working to your benefit if they're not working harmoniously.
With all that in mind, how do you prepare your brand for economic uncertainty whilst staying true to your vision and mission?
5 Ways to Prepare Your Brand
1. Use your messaging to build trust
Trust in a brand can falter during tough times. If your customer is worried about bolstering their bank account, a hard sales strategy will make your brand seem totally out of touch.
The key here is to emanate understanding and connection with your customer, without financial anxiety being the central focus of your offerings. A good place to start is to focus on your 'why'. It doesn't have to mean drastically overhauling your mission, but your 'why' and the way you communicate it should evolve so that it's as relevant as ever.
2. Accelerate your solutions-based content
Even if your content has always demonstrated a good awareness of customers' pain points, now's the time for an eagle-eyed focus.
Regardless of whether you're B2C or B2B, you should be digging into the most pressing concerns your customers have right now, and how your product or service can ease them. A great way to do this is through your content marketing strategy. Research and analysis will provide you with the right customer insights and a direction to take your brand content to.
3. Consider segmentation in your brand assets
You may know your customer demographic like the back of your hand, but buying behaviours can radically change during economic difficulties - and in very different ways.
Be it in your messaging tactics, your creatives, digital content or anything else for that matter, segmenting how you present and promote your brand to customer types can boost your sales trajectory. In your messaging, creatives and especially paid media efforts. Social and Google ads are a tried and tested method to tailor communication, and keep your brand top of mind.
4. Support your brand with PR - and vice versa
PR spend can be a contentious topic for some businesses. Does it really work? Is it worth it? How do we use the right message? The reality is, PR is a marketing powerhouse.
While B2B and B2C PR use different methodologies, the impact on your brand marketing is much the same. It enables you to tell your story to a diverse audience, build momentum for your brand, and relate to public rhetoric. One key thing to remember? Echo your PR angle across your brand too. There's few things more detrimental than inconsistency.
5. Outsourcing could be your best tool
Making adjustments to your brand can be a challenge if you're too close to it. Bringing in external support is your answer. And The Work Crowd can support you in that.
There are a range of freelancers and self-employed professionals who can offer your business the right level of support, for the right amount of time - when you need it most. Brand consultants, fractional CMOs and experienced content writers will all be able to assess your brand objectively, and give practical guidance on where to place your focus.
Small adjustments with big impact
We're not afraid to hammer home the message: your brand is the foundation to your business' success. It can heavily influence your sales strategy and go-to-market plan, your operational structure and your employee retention. Take care of it, and it will take care of you.
During economic uncertainty, the majority of us will naturally look for solutions and a brighter future ahead. Creating a sense of community, opportunity and consistency with your customers will help build that sense of relatability, loyalty and trust.
It's true that your brand needs to work that bit harder right now. But with small, impactful adjustments, your business won't just make it through - it could skyrocket.