When the crisis hit many brands have cut their budgets, especially branding budgets. The focus has shifted (even more) towards short-term outcomes.
Of course, it is understandable that when you need to make cuts that your focus shifts to the short-term. It is a natural reaction to protect yourself and the business initially.
However, cutting down on brand building, as demonstrated in the work of Byron Sharp, kills brands’ performance and strength that has been built up over years. Shifting measurement of campaign effectiveness to short-term metrics and immediate sales might bring a small peak in the short-run, but will leave you exposed in the long-term as branding and driving maximum reach within your category is required to grow your consumer base and ultimately your brand over time.
Branding and media are investments. They require long-term thinking with a flexibility and willingness to adapt while you go.
While I appreciate that marketing budgets and branding budgets are the first one to be cut when times get tough, such cuts will make it harder for brands to recover once the economy recovers.
Looking back at previous crisis, brands who continued communicating came out stronger than the ones who didn’t.
Brands need to continue talking to their consumers to stay top of mind. If a brand goes dark that is the chance for competitor brands to jump in and take over. And it is proven that brands who focus on brand growth – done via mass awareness campaign with broadcast channels such as TV, OOH, Cinema, Print or Online Video – gain in the long-term.
As Byron Sharp has proven in his work, continuous reach is the key to growth. Shot-term tactics are needed on top of branding activity to capture low hanging fruits, capturing users who are in-market. Long-term and short-term thinking need to be synced but not compete against each other.
It is worth investigating how best to split between branding and performance. As consumer’s are still spending a significant amount of time at home or locally, digital partnerships can be a great way to explore branding opportunities.
With high-streets being open again, (digital) OOH or cinema might also be locally targeted ways to continue connecting with your consumers again.
Also looking at social media, Twitter for example has seen a record increase in users in Q2 2020. And while their ad revenue has fallen due to budget cuts from advertisers, there is potential to increase awareness and connecting with your audience while fewer advertisers are active (for now).
Now that things start to ease a little bit, keep thinking again about your branding activity (if you have stopped). Keep thinking about how to grow your brand to get back out of this crisis but also to build up a strong brand ahead of a future crisis.
Sources: WARC, Kantar, Byron Sharp ‘How brands grow’