Thursday 7th December 2023


When the business climate changes suddenly and/or unanticipated problems arise, navigating the unknown can prove challenging. This has certainly been the case for many organisations through 2023, so we sat down with our executive chair, Ben Quigley, to look at five key tips for brands to consider during the cost-of-living crisis.

1. Clarity

In challenging times focus on core products and services. This will enable you to concentrate marketing resources more effectively and give your customers what they really need. Be ruthless about distilling down the product and service ranges you market as the doorway in to your brand.

Look at sales data and keyword search data to help inform your decisions. Be clear on your core services and value proposition – communicate what matters to your customers. You will get better traction for your brand or product with clearly defined services and brand values that your audience can connect with. Cadbury’s reinvigorated sales with ‘there’s a glass and a half in everybody’ to reinvigorate the brand around its intrinsic purpose of generosity.

2. Don’t go dark – stay always on

Your competitors won’t cut marketing spend when you do. If you have to, cut back some spend but don’t stop. According to both the IPA and the Harvard Business Review, “Companies that have bounced back most strongly from previous recessions usually did not cut their marketing spend, and in many cases actually increased it.”

During recessions, when most brands make moves to cut back on their brand advertising, a firm’s share of voice increases if it can maintain or increase its advertising budget. Why’s that? There are fewer new entrants into the market, there’s less competitive chatter, and digital ad costs generally become less expensive because there’s less competition for eyeballs. Likewise, brands that cut marketing spend during a recession take much longer to recover lost ground afterwards.

3. Be distinctive

Brands that stand-out perform better. Being vanilla or me-too is brand suicide. We’ve all seen the tried and tested, but push the boat out. Find your USP and drive your brand to the next level.

Whilst most UK Christmas advertisers eschewed consistency in favour of newness and novelty, Aldi single-mindedly invested in making Kevin the Carrot famous. Establishing his character, casting allies and foes, writing imaginative storylines and building social engagement all helped make Kevin a household name. Vitally, this created positive associations with Aldi at Christmas, when shoppers’ heads are turned by luxury, indulgence, and gift worthiness. Over six years Kevin even usurped John Lewis to become the UK public’s favourite Christmas advertising and his fame allowed Aldi to both redress its historic Christmas trade-out and drove significant penetration growth into each New Year.

4. Play the long game

Brands that continue to invest in marketing during hard times emerge strongest afterwards. We are all being squeezed financially right now and the natural reaction is to reduce investment in brands and to cut prices. Before actually doing that read this research and learn why that may not be the best approach for the longer-term health of your brand.

5.  If it isn’t measured, it isn’t managed

Make sure you’re SMART. To support with effective campaigns, find ways to track your efforts to not only show your achievements against KPIs and objectives, but also in understanding the cost-effective nature and business value of your endeavours.

To get more tips on branding and marketing, get in touch with the team at

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