Brand Building during Downturn

When companies tighten their purse strings, it is worst nightmare of a brand manager has come true for. A fund crunch, which would ultimately mean shelving of marketing plans. But should recession mean axing your branding exercises? Not necessarily. Marketing Evangelists term it as an opportunity of a lifetime and an absence could prove. It is the right time to build on the existing customers and converting the brand loyalists into brand disciples by creating various touch points for the customer to interact and engage with the brand.

Social Media, in the present scenario, has emerged as a lifesaver for many brands, especially the ones targeting youth, by bringing together a world of branding opportunities. As a branding tool it engages the user without any deliberation. In Facebook for instance, marketers can create applications, groups, pages dedicated to their brand that engage the users and letting them stay connected with the brand and receive feedback on the brand s latest activities.

Social Networking Sites, by its very nature, can spread the word around, which is exactly what Viral Marketing is meant to be. It s just about making the brand buzzy through the clever use of Flash Movies, Comic strips, Online Games and Contests. Make My Trip, ran a Viral Campaign called Dilwale Dulhaniya Kaise Le Jayengey? and received 17,354 views on it. Similarly Reliance Mobile s Bol India Bol received 24,981 views. Clearly it is a great tool to assist brand recall and spread the buzz around.

Just like Viral, Experiential Marketing too seeks to engage the customer and the brand. The point here is to let the customers actually experience the product at work. The benefits- companies get a feedback from the customer on what they think about the product. The most common form of experiential marketing being test drives.

Visual Merchandising is yet another important activity that brand managers cannot ignore. An assistance to recall after all the buzz generated around the brand at the point of purchase, merchandising is an age-old concept of attracting the customers to the stores. With the dawn of the superstores and increasing clutter even at the point of purchase, it should act as clutter breaker in an era when consumers switch between brands within seconds. Strengthening the brand at the point where the consumer and the brand meet physically is perhaps the most important aspect of all marketing activities.

It is not as if people stop spending but they spend less, weighing their options on the basis of the value both tangible (monetary) and non-tangible (satisfaction, associations etc.). This sense of value could be created by way of strong brand building exercises that bring the brand and the customer closer. As mentioned earlier, it is even more important for brands to be at a constant buzz and stay connected with the customers during the lean period.