Businesses and their brands are living in a pretty terrifying economic environment. The traditional summer lull drifted into a prolonged stare at the Euro crisis. We now know that the outcome rests on a Greek or Italian referendum that may or may not take place at some point in the unpredictable future. So we may as well close shop until after the holidays. After all, if we can't foresee the exact consequences of spending on marketing activity, surely it would be irresponsible to spend valuable resources?
I don’t agree. Now is not the time to panic. Whilst these pressures are real, a fear of the unknown should not cause paralysis. Who on earth would advocate a “winning” strategy of inertia? Show me the market that is static, the consumer segment that is wholly satisfied or the business plan that is unequivocally confident. Brands that attempt nothing in challenging markets achieve nothing.
Against this backdrop of uncertainty and change, some marketers with access to the “off” button have decided to exercise their right to the strategy of “let's do nothing” or “let's wait and see.” But if ever there has been a time for measured conviction or for a brand to confidently declare its mission, it is now. This backdrop of uncertainty and change presents the ideal canvas.
It all goes to show that many marketers still haven't broken through the corporate barriers and proven that brands are an asset worthy of investment – not just a cost. Those of us at Interbrand have spent 20 years demonstrating the economic value of brands, showing that well branded companies outperform competitors. If organisations are going to succeed in 2012, their marketers need to come out fighting and win these internal debates. After all, what brand can face the challenges of tomorrow's market without an effective understanding of how it drives demand?
Graham Hales is Interbrand London’s Chief Executive Officer.