In uncertain times, is brand the answer?

The pressures in the world of the built environment are many right now; supply chain issues, rising costs, cash flow struggles and labour shortages.

Traditional wisdom suggests brands should be conservative in uncertain times. Tighten the belt, prepare for rough waters, reduce costs and hunker down.

While there is some truth in this, smart brands are looking to use challenging moments to find ways to innovate and leverage their brand for competitive gain.

Rather than knee-jerk reactions to find cost-savings and conservative strategy, these brands are looking at how they can take a more design-led approach to problem solving to give their business a chance to turn pressure into opportunity.

Here are four ways we’re seeing brands work smart in tough times:

  1. Do what others can’t to widen the differentiation gap
  2. Support the ecosystem and assert brand leadership
  3. Invest in your brand promise to reinforce brand loyalty 
  4. Galvanise your team through your brand purpose 

  1. Do what others can’t What are you in a unique position to do? How do you widen the gap between you and your competitors? 

    At Trout, we have been working on the mantra, ‘Fewer. Bigger. Better’ with our clients. Rather than reducing spend across the board, we’re suggesting brands find where they can have the most impact and commit to it. What is the platform or channel you can own to drive greater brand connection and differentiation?  
  2. Support the ecosystem How can you help customers, suppliers, or others in your world band together and support each other? 

    Weathering tough conditions together can drive brand leadership and ensure you’re in a position of strength as tides change. Unlikely collaborations and opportunities arise from being better connected into the ecosystem around you, and strengthening these links ultimately leads to long-term customer loyalty and partnerships.
  3. Invest in your brand promise How can you use challenging times to double-down on your brand promise? How do you maximise your ability to serve, retain and delight existing customers? 

    Ensuring you are able to fulfil your promise, even when times are tough can cement brand loyalty. During COVID-19 Reece invested early and heavily into inventory, – to ensure Reece was able to deliver on its brand promise of having what its customers needed when and where they needed it.  Reece not only cemented loyalty of its existing customers but also put itself in a position to win new customers as their primary supplier.
  4. Galvanise your team How can you reconnect your team with your brand, and help them understand how to bring it to life every day? 

    Even beyond the current challenges, we are seeing ‘brand’ needing to work harder, connecting not just customers with a business, but also employees with a purpose. When things get tough, businesses and their employees can sometimes retreat to just ‘doing’ rather than believing. 

    This is the time to re-ignite employee connection with the brand purpose and reinforce the critical role they play in delivering the brand.

    Trout recently worked with La Marzocco who recognised the opportunity to rally their team around the power of brand experience. We ran a series of expeditions to brand spaces delivering unique experiences, and workshopped the learnings in the context of their own brand. This exercise in possibility highlighted their role in creating a meaningful and memorable moment every time for their customers.

So, although initial reaction to an uncertain economic climate might be to go back to the basics and take a conservative approach, it’s a good bet to use the opportunity to focus on your brand.

Are you better placed than others to go hard on your digital experience? Or to launch a new low-cost range? Is it about scaling up customer support, enhancing delivery capabilities? Whatever it is for your brand—with all these external pressures, sometimes you find the opportunities are most readily found in your own backyard (or your CRM).

To talk more, reach out to Trout Creative Thinking,, or if you’d like to check the vitals of your brand take the free Brand Vitals Test, Trout is also hosting various panels across all three days of the event.

Image credits:
Trout Creative Thinking