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The Importance Of Brand Salience During An Economic Downturn

The importance of brand salience during an economic downturn

As COVID-19 has continued to present itself across the globe it’s becoming more and more apparent that we are facing a universal shift. Businesses with purpose and compassion are coming to the forefront and the way we work on the ‘other side’ could change dramatically. 

Businesses, regardless of industry, will have to adapt to the new economic landscape and digital communications will become increasingly vital. With the potential that a percentage of those workers will remain at home, coupled with the many new businesses that have been started from home during the lockdown.  

It’s important in moments like this for businesses not to lose sight of long-term goals when it comes to telling their brand’s story. There has been a precedence during similar pandemics that showed an elastic economic behaviour following worldwide events. Both the SARS outbreak in China in 2003 and the MERS outbreak in South Korea in 2015 saw steady economic recovery in the months following the epidemic.   

It’s proven that brand salience is incredibly important in times of a crisis. Now is the time to have a voice, but be clear on what you want to say. What is important to you and your company? How is this effecting you and how are you overcoming your challenges? Who are you thankful for? Be transparent, authentic and speak with your own personality, don’t feel the need to be corporate if you’re not a corporate organisation.  

 In a report about the 2008 financial crisis from brand strategy consultants Millward Brown, Chief Global Analyst Nigel Hollis, said: “The connection between share of market and share of voice has been proven. The higher your share of voice compared to your actual market share, the more likely your brand is to grow its market share in the subsequent year.  

“So, if you increase your marketing investment at a time when competitors are reducing theirs, you should substantially increase the saliency of your brand. This could help you establish an advantage that could be maintained for many years.” 

Further to this, research conducted by Brandz, a brand equity database, has shown since 2008 we have seen that strong brands saw economic recovery nine times faster than others. 

Take for instance the current crisis within the travel industry. Brand salience has played a crucial role in equity and consumer decision making in this industry in the UK. However, for some, brand salience was not enough. For Thomas Cook, declining meaningful difference proved to be the brand’s undoing and Flybe was ultimately undone by a lack of relevance and differentiation.  

Meaning it’s not only important to have your fair part of share of voice, you need to be using that share to be distributing meaningful and timely messages to ensure your brand is resonating within your audiences.   

From this information there are four key takeaways relating to the importance of saliency for brands:  

  1. Brand building investment pays for itself and them some  Experience shows that brands with the strongest brand equity are in the best place to grow their value but also recover faster after difficult economic times. Marketing and PR are an investment not a cost, and a tough financial environment will make this clearer than ever.   
  2.  What is your salience strategy?  
    Salience has a particularly large influence on decision making. Manage the short term by focusing efforts on maximising saliency versus your competitors. Maintain spend as far as possible, aiming for a share of voice above market value. Consider the value available from digital channels and SEO.  
  3. Plan for the long term.  
    Ultimately, meaningful difference remains the best indicator of long-term brand value growth. Salience brings a brand into the conversation, but clear meaningful difference is the key factor at decision time.  

Publicity Seekers is a team of trained journalists and communications specialists who understand all aspects of the media. The company has been successfully building client reputations for 13 years.  
To get more information on crisis comms during the COVID-19 outbreak get in touch.   

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