In darker times, look on the bright side

Home Editorials In darker times, look on the bright side

by Al Wahnon

When business is weak, you must be strong. In desperate times, you must be prepared to take desperate measures. That’s not a signal to abandon reason but to take stock of the situation and shore up your assets, strengthen your position in the community. Whether you’re a manufacturer involved in a national market or a retailer concerned about a neighborhood constituency, branding can be difficult. It is always important to keep your company visible, but in a slumping market, it is imperative. Your resources may be limited, but your brand must be out there. The public memory needs prodding and when you let up, they stand down. So keep the brand on hand.

To grow your brand in a flagging economy requires more than creativity and determination; it demands a commitment of time and resources. Your brand must be more than a name and a logo. It must spark an image of trust and value in the mind of the consumer. A brand is a bridge of confidence that connects the product to the end-user. While some are curtailing their efforts and expenditures on promoting their brand, it affords a golden opportunity for the indomitable to garner a greater share of voice—which inevitably leads to a greater share of market.

Consistent promotion keeps a brand on the consumer’s radar. Brands are built with an unswerving promotion over a long period of time. The most effective weapon in your marketing arsenal takes time to nurture and bring to fruition. Be patient and rewards could be forthcoming even in times like these. Reassess your marketing efforts and determine where your branding dollars should be spent for optimum success. Make sure you have a strong online presence, including being registered with the bigger search engines, and take advantage of the social networks. In addition, you should be visible in your community. Join local boards and committees; the more you increase your personal involvement, the better known your company becomes and that begins or reinforces the branding process. Empathize with your customers and align yourself with their needs. Think about them and they will think about you.

It is important that you know your goals from the outset so you can efficiently and effectively direct your branding efforts. Constantly define and hone your brand promise; the relevant benefits only your business or product provides. Don’t try to be all things to all people. Don’t dilute your strengths. Rather, be very important to as many people as possible without compromising your brand. You manufacture or sell flooring products, so you can promote what it does to beautify a home, bestow a sense of pride on the owner and perform staunchly for years. A brand is only as good as its promise, so promise only what you can deliver and you will never be disappointed.

A drop-off of business volume affects companies differently. Some retrench and others stay the course. The important reaction during these unpredictable cycles is— and I repeat this for emphasis—consistency. The brand support must be the last thing to jettison, even if the ship is sinking. Many times the brand is the life preserver. Often the brand outlasts the company that originated it. Think of the immense popularity of the stain resistant fibers that dominated the carpet industry and the consumer for so many years. Stainmaster, Anso and WearDated no longer belongs to DuPont, Allied and Monsanto, respectively. The brands’ birth parents are gone, but the popularity of the children seems like a permanent part of the floor covering landscape. Therein lies the lesson: Support your brand and it will support you.

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