What do Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Kevin Hart have in common? They both have strong brands. No, we’re not referring to The Rock’s uber-tough Under Armour clothing line or his tequila company, or Kevin Hart’s historic partnership with Nike — which made him the first comedian to ever receive an endorsement from the Swoosh. Rather, we’re talking about the personal brands that these superstars each built which allowed them to successfully market products solely on their good names. It’s these strong brands that have made them successful in both their careers and extra-curricular adventures, and it’s these strong brands that will help them navigate the treacherous waters that seem to loom on the horizon.
So, what do you and Real Thread have in common? Well, we’re both not The Rock or Kevin Hart (unless?)... But we also both have all the tools in our toolbox to build an ironclad brand made to withstand the toughest of times. What it boils down to is whether we know how to use them.
Today, we’re talking brand strategy, navigating choppy waters, and being better for it when the sun inevitably peeks out from behind the clouds.
What Makes a Strong Brand? Strategy.
While The Rock’s strength comes from his impossibly bulbous muscles forged by millennia spent in the gym and acres of wild-caught salmon, your brand’s strength stems from its underlying strategy. What is your brand looking to do? How is it hoping to make people feel? Who is it you want your brand to reach? What will you do to accomplish these goals? The ability to clearly answer these questions can be the difference between an A-list brand and one TMZ won’t even chase after.
Having a "why" behind every brand or marketing activity is so important. It's no surprise that we're all about custom t-shirts here—but even we would not advise you to just create a bulk order all willy-nilly, without a strong reason or strategy behind it.
As the prospect of economic downturn becomes increasingly realistic, consumers will be turning to their chosen brands for a sense of stability; a port in the storm. A brand that is clear in its ambitions will have a steadying effect on customers, whereas one without a clear strategy may welcome heightened uncertainty amidst already uncertain times.
Why Having a Strong Brand Matters
There are countless benefits of having a strong brand with a clear brand strategy. As mentioned above, brands with a clear vision will be more deserving of loyalty — and if a customer only has the resources to choose one brand, they’ll be more likely to choose the one that they understand (and that understands them, too.) Among the myriad reasons for cultivating a strong brand, these are some that will be key to survival should the economy dip.
If Customers Are Able to Pay, They’ll Be Willing
In marketing, “price sensitivity” refers to how much of an impact price has on a consumer’s willingness to buy a product or a service. During periods of economic boom, price sensitivity can be dulled; when the scale tips in the opposite direction, this sensitivity is heightened. As consumers become increasingly conscious of price tags in order to stretch the almighty dollar to its absolute limits, having a strong brand will be paramount in lowering price sensitivity.
Increased (Positive) Word-of-Mouth
During a recession, the last thing people will want to do is trust paid advertising to make their decisions. However, a brand experience potent enough to warrant a real-life endorsement from a friend, family member, or stranger can drive sales even when people are cash strapped. In regular economic conditions, positive word-of-mouth is five times more effective than paid advertising — proving that a strong brand worth talking about is a game changer no matter where the Dow is at.
A Strong Brand Now Means Less Building Later
You don’t have to be a Survivor superfan like me to know that you don’t build a shelter after a storm comes. Instead, you gather your twigs, twine, and palm fronds as soon as you touch down at camp so that you aren’t soggy come time for the first challenge. Brands are not dissimilar, and you’re better off building a strong brand before you need it (spoiler alert: you always need a strong brand) than waiting until it’s too late. By building a strong brand now, you can establish yourself as a leader well before shoppers are thinking hyper-critically about their purchases. The tribe has spoken: Strengthen your brand now, don’t wait until you’re desperate.
Find Your Why and Get Strategic
Economic uncertainty is exactly that — uncertain — and your brand will serve as your compass (or navigator, or lighthouse, or whichever maritime tool you prefer) to keep you on course. By establishing a clear brand strategy which honors your mission, identifies your audience, distinguishes you from competitors, your path forward becomes far less hazy. This period can be a learning experience if you let it, and with the right strategy you’ll probably come out the other side an even stronger brand.
Real Thread helps businesses build brands through custom t-shirts, swoon-worthy swag, and other super cool stuff. If you need a break from devising your recession-proof brand strategy — or want tips on creating gear to compliment your brand — check us out!
Looking for more guidance on all things brand? Our friends at Focus Lab are the brains behind our current brand—and a ton of other amazing brands that you probably already know and love. Their site is filled with resources on brands—and they're also great partners if you're looking to take a leap into a rebrand of your own.