Brands continue to lose confidence in the UK’s increasingly turbulent economy as Brexit uncertainty rumbles on.


Just 10% of UK businesses have a marketing strategy ready for 31 October. 29% have some marketing plans in place. And that’s it. 71% of brands – 3 out of 5 – are waiting it out and seeing what happens next.


One thing for certain is marketing budgets are usually the first budgets to cut in tough times. And that’s not necessarily the best decision. Even Boris Johnson knows the power of the marketing pound. He’s pledged £100,000,000 to rebrand a no-deal Brexit into the best thing since sliced bread.


In reality, we’re deep into uncharted territories here. No one knows what’s going to happen next. On the positive side, we can ALWAYS learn from the past. From the brands that continued to invest in themselves during economic downturns and thrived.



Kantar Worldpanel's BrandZ tracking shows that investing in brand produces greater long term returns, even through difficult economic times

 Kantar Worldpanel's BrandZ tracking shows that investing in brand produces greater long term returns, even through difficult economic times

As Brexit is 100% unprecedented, these lessons go back to our last recession in 2008 (hopefully we won’t be doing the same).


Lesson #1 – have a clear vision and strategy

Reckitt Benckiser is a global company with 17 ‘powerbrands’ including Nurofen, Finish and Harpic. Their recession strategy was to keep innovating in better products for consumers. Revising product formulations and trialling new ideas before launch helped their net revenue more than double in the last 10 years.


Lesson #2 – build your strategy around the brand

Lego continued to progress financially during the recession by focusing on marketing and improving their core bricks and mortar range. Everything they did built on the quality and longevity of their trusted brand status – knowing parents won’t invest in toys that kids will throw aside within a few weeks. Their strategy even boosted nostalgia for classic toys and sales rocketed for its Star Wars film range.


Lesson #3 – be a generous brand during austere times

While most car manufacturers reported sales declines, Hyundai boldly bucked the trend by allowing customers to return new cars without affecting their credit rating if they lost their job during the recession.


Lesson #4 – remember your loyal customers

Posh grocer Waitrose had a problem. Their core customer base was deserting them in droves and switching to more pocket-friendly supermarkets. In March 2009, they launch Essential Waitrose – a value range promising quality you’d expect at prices you wouldn’t. Their re-priced and repackaged lines soon uplifted sales by up to 60% and delivered a 10% YOY sales increase.


Lesson #5 – stay single-minded

Virgin Atlantic doubled its profits at the same time British Airways reported a record £401m tax loss. Same market, different results. Why? Virgin Atlantic prides itself on listening to customers whilst flying them with fun, class and comfort. A message their advertising continued to promote alongside some rather attractive long haul fares.


So, there you go. Your brand is your most valuable asset – not marketing it will only harm it. Brands that constantly invest in themselves will continue to deliver.


Whatever happens.


Jo Richards

Jo Richards

Senior Copywriter