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Practical Brand Strategies for an Uncertain Economy

Andrew Wood, Principal, Strategy, shares his insights, gained over more than three decades, on how brands can best prepare for what is on the horizon. 

headshot of andrew wood

You get the sense things are fraying a bit at the edges, and everyone seems to be contemplating if a recession is coming. We all know marketing budgets are one of the first things to come under scrutiny as leadership gets nervous. How will you prepare for that conversation?

With more than 50 years in the business, we’ve seen multiple recessions and helped many clients through them. Here are a few practical strategies we’re using with clients right now to unlock insights and help them take the right next step for their brands—or maybe to see that no next step is needed at all. 

  1. Have another good, good look at your competition. Do they appear to be changing course? Have they repositioned their brand or shifted their messages? Are they entering new market spaces, or media channels, spending more or less? Are they leaving any big gaps or threatening you differently in any way? Listen in to your channel partners, sales teams and update your competitive reconnaissance. How will you respond, if at all? 

  2. Use your positioning as a lens to evaluate your brand: 
    • Put your customer back in the room. (After all, they’re always the epicenter of strategy.) Have their pains and gains adjusted? Has the way they’re thinking and buying changed? How can you better help them stay steady and reinforce the benefit of your product or service—or bring more clarity to the value of what they’re buying?  

    • What’s happening in your category? Has your competition shifted? Are your customers searching for an alternative solution? Do you still want to compete in the space you’ve previously targeted? Consider launching a competitive positioning and spending review.  

    • What point of difference are you delivering? Is it still relevant given what we’ve just considered? Or are there nuances that need to be amplified or minimized. Will you double down or twist?  

    • Consider your reasons to believe. In an economic slowdown you might emphasize things differently. Does the hierarchy of product features change? As a result, is new or updated content needed? Can we impact the customer journey differently?  

  3. Look at your brand voice. Maintaining authenticity is essential. Does your brand voice remain steady, or does it need to change to meet your audiences’ changing emotions? Carefully consider if some finessing is needed. Do your customers expect a different approach from your brand if they are experiencing financial hardship or belt tightening?  

  4. Be mindful of emotion. It’s easy to appear manipulative and cynical here. (Not if you’re one of our clients though!) Emotion is businesses’ most important asset. Be aware of any new emotional landscape. What do buyers now need from you? Understand any shifts and how to adapt. Help your sales teams and channels adjust or understand it’s time to hold steady—that’s something folks often appreciate the most.   

The key takeaway? Have a steady hand and take great care. Do the due diligence. Preparation rather than panic will bring you peace of mind and ready you with an answer when asked, “How are we responding?”  

If you're a client, we'll get you ready. If you're not, but would like to be, fill out the form below and let's talk.

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Andrew Wood is Principal, Strategy at Mintz + Hoke and has had two stints at the agency spanning more than 35 years. He’s built B2B and consumer brands using the Immersively Different philosophy across industry and the public sector, including OTIS, Deloitte, Pratt & Whitney, Access Health CT, YoCrunch Yogurt, Special Olympics, and the State of Connecticut Department of Transportation, to name

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