How To Resist The Dark-Side Of The Economy.


It is exactly these economic times that branding importance comes into play. When I sit down with corporate branding teams, the very first component of my Brand Navigator Process, is to establish the firm’s Corporate Brand Values. The exercise consists of the entire team’s input outlining potential values that exemplify the company’s culture. This brain-storming typically results in dozens and dozens of potential values. From here we whittle it down to a hand-full which are the foundation of the company’s brand.

Feeling quite proud of themselves, the next step is validation. One of the questions is: Can these values remain true in good times and bad. In explaining that, we mean if times are desperate, would they as a company be willing to compromise any of the values to bring money in the door? Now, when times are good, this is a no-brainer question. I rarely get any deep soul-searching delays to this question. Everyone on the team takes the high road and declares their belief, that yes, they would definitely adhere to the values stated under ANY conditions.

If you are watching the financial markets (and we all are), the challenges to our brands are maximizing. Temptation to bring in the dollars at any cost is incredibly tempting. If there was ever a time to capitalize on your brand this is it. Unscrupulous competitors will stoop to any length to get the sale. They will stiff their suppliers, lie to the customers and short change their stake holders. In the short term, they may even look like they are winning. But as your market adapts to the conditions – once the initial shock has passed, it is those among us who stayed true to their Brand values who will ultimately benefit.

The dismal economic climate is actually a fertile ground for opportunity. Feeling your customer’s pain and addressing it quickly are fine brand practices. Take for example WalMart and Toys R Us. Recognizing that a very tight Christmas season is no doubt around the corner, both of these mega-chains know that their traditional customers will be financially stressed. To address this they have immediately announced price roll-backs and have highlighted name-brand toys that they will have available for under $10., (some cut by half). This is the ‘opportunity’ swiftly embraced by a smart brand.

If you are in the service industry, investigate payment plans for your customers. Recognize their need to grow with you by giving their cash flow a break. One big fee may be a barrier to them at this time, but broken down over six months, it may get you the business, PLUS you will benefit with an enormous amount of good-will.

Hard times, can either turn your brand into a wolf in sheep’s clothing or it can be just the opportunity you need to really show your value. The free advice we dish out in these blogging circles becomes invaluable to companies looking to advance with dwindling resources. Your strength as an entrepreneur will truly be tested in the months ahead of us. The minute you entertain the quick buck is the moment in time that your brand morphs to the dark side. Rise above the temptation. As the economy glows brighter (and it will), how your brand performed amid the darkness will be a testiment to it’s resiliance. Success will be sweeter. Your customers will remember how you were on their team.

How can you use your Brand values to address your barriers to growth in this marketplace? There is no better time to differentiate. Leave the herd mentality to everyone else. To extend the analogy, it is better to be the sheep dog. LEAD instead of follow!


  1. Hi Ed,
    Great comments as usual.
    Coming out of a finance background it is easy to take a slash and burn attitude in tougher times. However, at the end of the day, it is the brand that you’ll be remembered for and if it is highly compromised by slashing and cutting corners then it will be remembered for all the wrong reasons!
    Sometimes I think my compatriots become short sighted and have very short memories.
    I know that I have one client today because we recommended to keep investing marketing dollars to supoort his brand even though the business was not travelling that well. Now we are seeing the benefit oif that further down the track but at the time it took some guts to stick to our guns and believe things would turn around.

  2. Let’s face it, the smart ones get it the rest follow.

  3. Ed,

    Plain truth… worrying about the economy will only let your business slide to plunge into recession-ridden business network 🙂

    Indeed, it’s all about resilience… and mindset. If you think you can’t, well, you can’t! On contrary, if you think you can ace the economy, you will!


  4. It’s the same negative mindset, when people tell you endless reasons why they can’t do something rather than considering how they CAN do it. We are our own worst enemies – who coined that anyway?