Brand management in lean times

Anyone can do marketing with a blank check. Lean times, or even the threat of lean times, force us to be more careful in our decision making. Which brands should we push? Where should we promote our brand? How can we avoid duplication? Who is our target audience?

Cost-cutting measures include co-branded advertising, consolidating outside vendors, and cutting down on printing costs by creating more electronic promotional materials. More than that, here are 4 key areas, proposed by Lippincott & Margulies, to review in order to increase brand and branding efficiency in slowing economy:

1. Tighten the communications reins

During prosperous times, when companies are constantly unveiling new products and services, marketing materials can often grow out of control. An objective communications audit is the first step to ensuring that all marketing efforts are consistent and not wasteful.

A review of all marketing support materials can help companies to identify what materials are being produced, who’s producing them, the cost for each, and then the total marketing communications cost. This is often a surprisingly large pot of cash. It also results in identifying the audience for each communications vehicle. Completing this kind of company audit can help companies identify where their efforts are repetitive, and possibly even unnecessary.

2. Brand head count

Through a brand portfolio analysis, companies can take a serious look at their products and services to determine their target audience. After evaluating each brand by grouping it in a designated category and assigning it to a key audience, a company can then step back and decide if support for some of those brands can be consolidated, cut back or eliminated.

3. Assess advertising spending

Heavy advertising spending is not a prerequisite for building a strong brand. Understanding who your targets are, and then prioritizing those audiences, can help in ascertaining where advertising is a necessity and where it’s a luxury. By narrowing the focus and sharpening the message content, companies can use creative, less expensive alternatives to communicate to who’s critical and not to who isn’t.

4. Centralize brand management

Develop decision-making tools based on a set of criteria to manage naming, co-branding and marketing expenditure. Developing a permanent set of criteria will also ensure that future branding issues are decided upon consistently and efficiently.

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