The price we will pay for the brands we love

Richard Hurst, strategic and creative director at WPA Pinfold, discusses the difficult economic landscape in the UK and why, in these tricky times, it is crucial for brands to demonstrate authenticity and for their stories to shine.

The cost-of-living crisis has continued into 2024 and a recent report released by the Joseph Rowntree foundation showed that in the UK 72% of consumers were going without essentials. This climate creates a significant challenge for brand owners, with the consumer purse only getting tighter, how do you enable customers to see the value in your brand and product?

As brand owners we should always remember that while the product is made in a factory the brand remains firmly in the consumer’s mind – and it’s this relationship that means that brands have the ability to create strong connections despite the economic landscape.

Brands can provide continuity and strength for us – they can show they care, they can make us laugh, they can take us back in time, they can help us look to the future with optimism and hope. When we look back to Covid-19, it’s not the actions of government that sticks in your mind – it’s Zoom lifting the 40 minute limit on its free package for school kids, it’s Audible giving free books, it’s Starbucks giving free coffees to health workers and Dyson producing ventilators.

We mustn’t forget that in times of hardship and difficulty brands have a key role to play in building something that moves beyond favourability into fandom and brand love. Forming a stronger, more emotional and more meaningful connection with consumers. It’s not just being front of mind, you should live in their minds. Find your relevant place right now – where you can show them you understand them – that you are there for them.

Use these four levers to help you think about how you can do it:

  • Loyalty without reason is about the way brands bring themselves alive for customers, creating a true and deep brand experience, showing authenticity and care. When we have a true emotional connection between brands and customers we see brands thrive and grow.
  • Building and maintaining adoration relies on a brand always going the extra mile. Wherever possible, it centres on providing elevated customer service and experiences that show customers they are truly valued. It’s about how brands surprise and delight their customers and empower their employees to be able to do this.
  • Understand your customer, their needs and the key moments in the customer journey. Make messaging personalised and provide a helping hand when it matters.
  • Making a brand irreplaceable in a fan’s life, boosting revenue from purchases and making it more likely they will forgive rather than churn to a rival. True love indeed.

In a recent article Mark Ritson cited that the idea of brand love is being readily overlooked, and he believes “There has to be room in brand management for affection, love and loyalty”. Those who spend more and buy your brand more often have unparalleled insight into what makes it special – and into what appeals to new customers too. We need to get closer to consumers, make them love the brands we own, understand why they forgive us our sins so readily, why they would pay double or triple what we currently charge if we asked them to, and use the answers to bring others into the brand. If general consumers offer us a key to understanding our brand, brand lovers provide us with a much bigger understanding.

In this climate, it’s up to us as owners and lovers of the power of brands to work out how to make our brand love stand out, our stories resonate, our authenticity shine through loud and proud, make our actions meaningful and powerful, as well as remaining relevant – even in the toughest of times.

If you would like help in crafting your brand’s strategy get in touch here.