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[column] Building a brand in a recession

The fear factor prevails. Will my business flourish or go bankrupt? Marketing budgets are cut for fear of declining revenues. In The Drum, the article reads: The case for brand building during a recession from David Buttle, global commercial marketing director for the Financial Times, in which he argues that companies should continue to invest in their brand and look to the future while also dealing with the current crisis.

Marketers should consider longer-term results during a crisis if possible. If there is one thing she needs to focus on now, it is their brand

Every recession is different. Marketers are in unknown territory, but when studying the marketing successes and failures of dozens of companies that have coped with recessions since the 1970s, Harvard Business Review patterns of consumer behavior and business strategies that either stimulate or undermine performance. Their research found that companies that scrutinize customer needs take a scalpel instead of a cleaver on the marketing budget, and skillfully adjust strategies, tactics and product offerings in response to changing demand, rather than other companies flourishing during and after a recession.

More than ever, digitization and online communication have the upper hand. Communication channels have become more diverse and fluid. Now we need to find out what role the channels can play within the customized customer journeys of target groups. We need to re-understand the new customer segments and buyer behavior that are emerging in this recession. BBN shares his vision.

In the future it is essential that people deal with brands voluntarily.
What marketing experts need to be clear about is that our actual mission has changed dramatically. We used to advertise in a way that was too predictable. We are now in a world where clumsy advertising is disapproved. People no longer want anything to be sold to them.

The challenge: how much time has been spent with the brand?
In the future it is essential that people deal with brands voluntarily. If they don’t, the brand will inevitably become insignificant. That is exactly what makes our work different today. Today’s marketing must be able to bring companies and people together in new exciting and valuable encounters. The means for this is called a brand. The brand is what can be touched, understood and experienced in this relationship.

So like in any good relationship, it should spark. When people and brands meet, experiences must develop such a positive force that they make a lasting contribution to the feeling of the brand.
In the future, brand managers will therefore not only be jugglers of channels, content or media. That would be too mechanical. Fire managers are magicians who create experiences. But just as with real magicians, the job is largely craftsmanship so that that real serious magic can be created.

Understand the brand
If you want to create experiences between brands and people, you need to have an in-depth idea of ​​your brand and its interaction with people. In addition to the classic brand definition of mission, vision, positioning, values, it must be clearly defined what the brand experience at each contact point must consist of. This helps to compare the desired image with the empirically determined actual brand perception. Here it is crucial to see the brand as an identity anchor, both internally and externally: the brand is an emotional home for both employees and customers.

Understanding people and their behavior
On the other hand, we must now take in a tremendous amount of knowledge about people, their expectations and their information behavior, and make this knowledge accessible and up-to-date within the company. We need to know: what experiences does a customer have with the brand? Where do we meet them at all? What experiences are expected and what significance do the individual touchpoints have? In fact, under these different circumstances, we need to re-develop clear personas, identify their custom customer journeys and work out real insights to ideally design all touchpoints afterwards.

Understand data and research
Knowledge is indispensable for shaping experiences between people and brands. This knowledge can come in the form of data and insights from surveys and observations (eg online surveys, online focus group discussions or in-depth interviews) or from studies.

Today, the most critical task of brand managers is to continuously collect data, learn from it and use the knowledge gained to adapt brand management. So that ultimately the professional who perfectly masters the triple leap of knowledge acquisition, measurement and implementation leads the way.

What does the future hold?
There will be no more one-sided messages. The same applies to our way of thinking in communication disciplines. Those who are unable to view and manage the customer journey as a whole will inevitably fail. We will also have to review our KPIs. Media attention is no longer decisive. It is important to see how much the presented content can cause interaction between the brand and relevant personas. The ability to encourage people to engage and spend time with a brand will become crucial.

However, this also makes clear that good ideas and exciting stories are becoming more important again. While we had feared in recent years that the world would become cold and mechanical, the magic is now returning to communication. Research and data analysis can provide us with strong insights. Moreover, these can again be a springboard with a huge motivation for creatives. Assumption and hope have given way to higher reliability.
Well, let’s get started, perfect every detail and then make magic.

BBN the World’s B2B Agency is number one in the top 15 of this year B2B Marcomms Agencies League Table. Referro in Oisterwijk is the only Dutch branch of BBN. BBN consists of 47 offices in 30 countries and employs more than 1,300 B2B specialists. Gerard van den Bogaart from Referro regularly reports in this blog from BBN on new marketing techniques, customer successes and international B2B developments.

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