Now is the time for forward thinking brands

I hear some businesses are ducking for cover – it’s an understandable human reaction in the midst of a hurricane, but it would be an unforgivable mistake for leaders to make right now.  History shows us that this is a time for creativity, clarity of thought and chutzpah.

In every economic downturn, in every country – from the Great Depression of 1929, the pre-war funk of 1911, the recession of 2008, the Oil Crisis in the 1970s – great businesses are created, sharpened and improved.

Airbnb, Disney, General Electric, IBM, HP, Microsoft – all companies that were actually launched in the middle of a major recession or depression; Google, Facebook and Salesforce were launched just before a major recession hit – and before they had an opportunity to pick up momentum.

This isn’t a coincidence – in times of plenty, when everything’s rosy, it’s difficult to get people to switch suppliers or adopt new behaviours. It’s just so much easier to stay with the status quo, so new businesses are hard to get off the ground, and new clients are hard to find. In times like these, customers have new challenges – and need new solutions – to cut costs, reach new markets, solve new problems.

By providing uncommon value to clients, companies are able to use this opportunity to bring innovation to the marketplace and create a huge amount of value.

So what should businesses do right now?

Study your customers. Closely.

What do they need?

What are they telling you?

What is left unsaid?

How can you deliver absurd levels of value at this time when they need it the most.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record – it’s a simple statement of fact that communications are the primary interface between businesses and their customers, those companies that actively market themselves during the recession have a significantly greater chance of emerging from it with new customers and from learning with their contact with commercial reality.

Because believe me, this is a new reality – and that is no time for the faint of heart – and so to our new podcast.

We hope you enjoy listening to Commanding Conversations – it’s a show where Flagship interviews the leading people behind the great brands and cultural moments in the UK. We get the inside story from people who communicate for a living – whether that’s in TV, book publishing, internal communications, PR, advertising, product management – and many other disciplines. Their lessons, tips and tricks are widely applicable.

Many of their insights are timeless and some of their stories are extraordinary – it’s been great fun making it so far and if you like what you hear, do let us know and we’ll carry on doing it.