In a period of growth, your brand is your sword, helping you open up new markets, boldly making an impression on consumers, reinforcing the emotional aftertaste of doing business with you for good or ill. Your brand is what you brandish against competitors, demonstrating with swiftness your strengths and the reasons others should do business with you. Obstacles like barriers to entry are slashed aside as word of mouth of your brand paves the way for progress.
In a period of recession, your brand is your shield, defending you against the onslaught of market forces. Your brand reminds consumers why they did business with you in the first place, the value of business with you versus a lower priced, potentially lower quality competitor. Your brand as shield provides some cover for you to reposition, to adjust, to realign on new terrain, to bide your time until opportunity becomes apparent and it's time to wield the sword.
If you are skilled only with branding as a sword, then the forces of recession will toast you as surely as a dragon's breath the moment the market turns.
If you are skilled only with branding as a shield, you'll be left behind when others charge forward to opportunity and prosperity.
How do you put this to use?
Wield your brand as a sword by creating something worth talking about, giving customers experiences that amaze them. Solve their problems. Cut away obstacles to their success. Deliver what you promise plus a little bit more. Serve them in the truest sense of the phrase.
Wield your brand as a shield by never failing to deliver what you promise, by providing great service as a defensive play, by reminding customers in as many ways as possible why they've done business with you and why they should continue to do so. In marketing copy and sales talks, ask customers to recount their experiences to you as a way of self-reinforcing the good. (assuming you delivered on your promises)
This above all else, though: know when it is time to advance with sword in hand or hold your ground behind your shield.
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