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How to Preserve Your Brand During the Recession

Are you frantic because your sales are low? Do you think lowering prices on your art will encourage your customers to purchase your work? Is your studio filling up with inventory and you’ve decided to hold a clearance sale?

Stop, Breathe, & Read.

In a recent article found on AdAge, Don’t Damage Your Brand for Short-Term Gains in a Recession Al Ries recalls a time when Packard was deemed the first luxury car. Ries explains that during the depression and a careless act of greed, Packard devalued it’s position as the leader of luxury automobiles.

Don’t let this happen to you.

Packard was coined, “The American Rolls Royce” and out sold Cadillac, not even considered competition, by a wide margin for many years. Because it was the bottom of the depression, Packard was concerned about the fraction of cars it was selling, even though they remained in the black. Their award-losing solution? They built a cheaper version of the same product.

How does this translate? You may not be selling your originals as quickly as you think you should be, but don’t reduce the original price just to make a buck.
Why? If you’ve already sold one original, you will serve only to anger your customer. Moreover, you will devalue yourself as an artist and your work.
Alternative: Take a breath -a deep breath. Consider creating print reproductions of the same art. Creating other products with the same image at different price points will become affordable to everyone and supporting value to your original work.

This new ideal propagated in the board room and worked for more than a decade. The money came rolling in just as it used to, but it didn’t last long because the short-term strategy was doomed to fail straight out of the gate. Why? While Packard sold three times as many cars as Cadillac, the brand was getting tarnished because car buyers began to perceive Packard as just another mid-priced vehicle. Ouch! Think about that: Just another mid-priced vehicle.

After the economy began to improve, Packard began to fade (because of the eroding brand) and Cadillac took it’s place in the luxury line-up. The customers took their loyalty elsewhere and consequently, left Packard’s brand unsupported.

How does this happen? Your customers own your brand, you do not. You can only help guide their perception through your behavior, good and bad.

How does this translate? Overall, your sales may be low.
Why? People simply aren’t buying and you may need to reach beyond your current audience.
Alternative: Consider creating a new line of work that supports and extends your style. Breathing life into your business with a new, yet unique product or service will only serve to augment and enhance you company.

Do you want to be known as just another mid-priced vehicle? Think of how many mid-priced vehicles you know; you’d be here all night naming all of them.Think of all the similar artists you know who do common work. There isn’t much distinction.  Think of the luxury model vehicles or high-end artists you aspire to. I bet you can name a few that you’d like to covet for your very own, eh?

Now think of your business as a luxury vehicle. Convert that luxury vehicle into your brand. Would you be as likely to drive wrecklessly with a luxe model of your favorite car? Take great care with your brand and company image as you would that blinged out baby you drive around town, and it will take care of you.

As I learn through the years of developing my own style as an artist and as a business entrepreneur, I quickly realize that in order to remain competitive, valued among my customers as well as clients, I need to remain distinct.

How does this translate? If you’re a non-profit working on a local level and you’re looking for a new logo, certainly look to the other similar agencies for inspiration, but by no means should you copy them.
Why? If all the other art guilds are using hands in their logos, why would you use a hand in yours? You’ll just end up getting buried in the heap.
Alternative: Take the time to get creative to position yourself apart from the others. Do a SWOT analysis to find your unique stance.

As Ries continues, “The most valuable thing a company owns is its position in the consumer’s mind. When you tamper with this position, you are asking for trouble. Yet many companies spend much of their time doing just that.”

How does this translate? You may be at the point where you’re frantically rubbing two nickels together to make fire and you’re in the process of building your clientele, but don’t turn your haste into consumable waste.
Why? Churning out work doesn’t make you an artist; remarkable art and craftsmanship does.
Alternative: Take a breath -a deep breath. View yourself like bamboo through these economic hardships. The Chinese use bamboo as scaffolding to erect skyscrapers. Why? Because bamboo bends, rarely breaking. Close your eyes and take a deep breath.  Envision yourself as bamboo bending, allowing the difficult forces to breeze right around you.

Once you’ve revitalized yourself through this momentary relaxation technique, step back & take a look at your business a whole unit. What were some of the things that didn’t work when the economy was good? If they didn’t work then, they certainly won’t work today. Review those and consider eliminating them.

Likewise, if you listen to your customers, I mean really listen, you may consider including some of the suggestions they’re making. Case in point, for years, people thought I created logos in my calligraphic style –I resisted. Recently, I’ve decided to acquiesce and voila! People are now calling me for logo and ID systems; definitely a diamond in the rough.

It’s been well over 80 years since we’ve seen anything like this, but you can be assured that we’ll see recession again. History shows that it occurs every 5-8 years, so it’s best to watch and plan for it. Meanwhile, now is a good time to work on new techniques, recraft your style, or rework your story.

Preserve your brand in your customers mind by implementing some of the methods outlined about; resist chipping away at it because you’re feeling desperate. Maintain your stance and when the economy improves, so will your sales.

How will you preserve your brand?

Here’s to Cultivating Your Creative Independence

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Lisa Stewart
CREATIVEGoddess, Design Entrepreneur, Guide for; Huge Pet Advocate; Lover of Wine, Food, Travelling, Tech & Laughing. Dreamy & Practical.

2 Responses to “How to Preserve Your Brand During the Recession”

  1. Your explanation of business strategy is wonderfully concrete. Great illustration of ingenuity in brand preservation and extension that draws on the fighter brand concept.

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