Business leaders say branding is key to recovery

A majority of UK companies see a successful rebrand as a key way of weathering the recession, according to new research.

Implementation, Rebranding and Design, a report commissioned by branding consultancy the Principle Group, surveyed 250 marketing directors of blue chip companies and UK business owners, and found that the majority recognise the importance of rebranding in a downturn and acknowledge the role of design in assisting business recovery.

Levels of confidence varied across the survey, but itfound that 65 per cent of business leaders and managers believe rebranding will help large corporate institutions get back on track, and 85 per cent say design will play an important role in generating a recovery for some, or all, brands. A successful rebranding was seen by 64 per cent of UK business leaders as a route to gaining ‘a competitive edge in a downturn’. Similarly, 63 per cent agreed that a new identity signified ‘a bold embracing of change’.

Commenting on the research, Ron Cregan, business strategy director at consultancy Navyblue, says, ‘Any brand with the appetite to develop its brand identity in a recession demonstrates a willingness to challenge the market and a commitment to its businesses, services and products.’

But he adds that many companies will ‘restrain their brand and marketing spend’, for fear of being seen to be ‘spending while people are losing their jobs’.

There is a case, made by 76 per cent of business leaders, that designers themselves should be more effective in communicating the strength of design. Of these, 8 per cent reasoned that ‘designers could understand marketplace and client requirements better’.

Cregan adds that, in a recession, ‘validation is a necessity’, and consultancies can promote the benefits of design using case studies, client testimonials, independent analysis and industry reports.

James Quayle, head of strategy at Lambie-Nairn, says that, for companies, ‘doing nothing suggests apathy and self-interest’, adding that ‘a change of look and feel should be the signal of deeper and more fundamental change’.

Joel Biswas, senior strategy consultant at FutureBrand, says repositioning while retaining core values, rather than rebranding, is the answer for businesses.

He cites the examples of Tesco retaining its ‘Every Little Helps’ approach and the willingness of ‘middle-class shoppers’ to use budget supermarket Aldi, which has retained its ‘value’ strategy.

‘Consumers want brands they can trust,’ Biswas says. ‘Rebranding can be self-defeating. It should be more about leveraging what people like about the brand.’

Citroën has chosen to take definitive action – last week it launched a new identity, designed by Landor Associates Paris and Citroën’s in-house team, ahead of a complete repositioning that will see six new car models launched in the next three years.

Citroën communications director Mark Raven says, ‘At a time when the bulk of the automotive industry is suffering a loss in confidence, we’re using the opportunity of a difficult climate to change the relationship with customers and show them that the company is reinventing itself.’

Implementation, Rebranding and Design:

• 85% of UK business leaders and managers believe that design will play an important role in generating a recovery for some, or all, brands

• 56% of marketing directors of blue chip companies believe that a downturn could be the best time strategically to rebrand

• 63% of business leaders agree that the act of launching a new brand identity in uncertain times signals a bold embracing of change

• 65% of business leaders believe that rebranding would help large corporate institutions get back on track

Source/ The Survey Shop, commissioned by Principle Group

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  • Mark Sumner November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    I thought this article was an incredibly inspiring for both designers and independent businesses.

    I believe these difficult times are an opportunity for all of us evolve and revise our goals.

    As designers/marketeers we can help businesses sharpen up their branding and focus on more poignant campaigns that will boast business awareness and increase revenue.

    Many thanks. Mark.
    Managing Director of ICE

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