Five ways to protect brands during a downturn
Now that all the evidence points to the fact that a recession has arrived, brand owners should be increasingly careful to safeguard their corporate reputation and brand images, according to Canadian reputation management agency AGC Communications, which offers its 'five commandments for brand protection'.
The company's five commandments for recession-proofing a brand's image and reputation may appear to be simple common sense, but the company warns that it is essential for organisations to keep themselves in the minds of their target audience and communities of interest during a recession.
According to Ahmed Galipeau, president for AGC Communications, "Many studies have shown that companies that can keep a sound reputation are the ones that survive in difficult times."
The five commandments to help raise profit levels and beat a depressed economic climate are as follows:
- Help your clients The recession will render your customers' life difficult, so you should offer them your support wherever possible. Ask them how you can help them, and follow-up on any viable suggestions received. Customers tend to remember which companies were side-by-side with them during rough times.
- Empower your employees Difficult economic times will cause additional stress for employees, so this is the time to give them the extra power they need to better serve and answer the needs of customers. The more they feel empowered and responsible with regard to customers, the more they invest extra effort to help satisfy customers and build loyalty. Employees can be very effective ambassadors when they feel supported and appreciated, which means that management should make ongoing efforts to thank them often in meaningful ways.
- Solidify your links with suppliers An economic slowdown is the best time to solidify links with suppliers and business partners. Ask them how they intend to confront the economic crisis, explore ideas together on how to better collaborate on reducing costs and improving products and services.
- Appeal to shareholders Recent upsets in the financial markets has left shareholders stunned and worried, so communicate with them and let them know what you plan to do in order to make it through difficult times during the next few quarters. Specifically, tell them what you intend to do for customers, partners, suppliers and employees. The best defence is total transparency with regard to reputation management and, in keeping communications open with shareholders, you can secure their trust and support - and a confident shareholder tends to attract another, which in turn solidifies the company's reputation in the markets.
- Recruit the best collaborators A recession - traditionally a time of high unemployment levels - is often the best time to recruit the best human resources available. Even if you have no current openings, hundreds of highly skilled people will be looking for work over the next year or two, and many will be actively looking for a new employer with a more reliable reputation.