Staying The Course

Maintaining your brand through difficult times
(Pulled from the June 2008 Russo Group Newsletter - Revelations)

Chances are good that you’ve noticed the recent changes in our economy. Perhaps it’s the queasy feeling you got this morning as you filled up your car with gas, or maybe it’s the nightly news that works very hard to terrorize us all with forecasts of doom. Either way, we have all felt the pinch these last few months with no real end in sight. It is during these times that special attention must be paid to maintaining the integrity of your brand. Unfortunately though, most businesses forget about their commitment to building and maintaining brand equity and head directly into crisis mode.

Crisis mode generally results in discounts, sales and an attempt to attract transactional customers. While this may help to maintain the status quo, it won’t lead to long term gains. More importantly, you begin to slowly water down your message, losing the relational clients you have worked so hard for. This loss of brand loyalty is difficult if not impossible to regain once it is gone.

Think about it. Has your product or service declined in value since yesterday? No, of course not? Well then, why would you even think of not charging what your product or service is worth? Your brand is worth more than that, and it is vital that both you and your customers regard it as such. Truth be told, once you head down the road of price point marketing, you will soon find yourself chasing after a dog that will never be caught.

Strong brands understand the difference between transactional and relational consumers. Transactional consumers are going to drive to the end of the Earth, or at least the State Line, to get the lowest price (please disregard the amount of gas and time spent on this transaction). They will always make you work harder for less. Relational consumers on the other hand, will always want YOUR brand because of the promises you have made regarding quality, service, and overall awesomeness. They provide you with both loyalty and, wait for it – advocacy, the single most powerful form of advertising available. They rarely look for the best bargain, but rather, the best quality. These are the customers we all want.

If you are an avid reader of our writings here at Russo, you’ll notice that we talk about advocacy and results quite a bit. The reason? They are what we strive for with every branded touchpoint we develop. They are also unattainable as soon as you lose focus on your core promise and begin discounting the value of your product or service. Remember, your promise is your brand – and as soon as you begin slashing prices you lose credibility. So, before you run to the weekly paper and begin announcing the fire sale, think about the ramifications of those actions. Yes, there may still be difficult times ahead, but those who stay the course and remain true to their promise, will find their brand is not only intact, but stronger than ever.

Michael Russo
Creative Director
The Russo Group

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