How low can you go?

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Transitioning from a business to a brand.

With geopolitical tensions rising, the global economy sinking and a looming energy crisis to boot, many organisations could well hunker down and start reducing costs to face any possibility of an upcoming price war leading into 2023.

An analogy used was: “Turn up the radio, put out that pole and let everybody see how low we can go” in an obvious reference to the well-known limbo dance.

History has shown that when adversity strikes, this age-old route may well lead to a downfall, yet that same history also shows that those who take advantage of this adversity, to take swift and decisive action, often come out on top.

This, and other insights, were shared with MARKETING Magazine by Malaysian Advertising Association (MAA) President Claudian Navin Stanislaus, who has umpteen years’ experience in advertising, marketing and brand building.

Claudian Navin Stanislaus, President, Malaysian Advertisers Association

Navin (as he is more popularly known), who has also been the Head of Communication and Consumer Marketing at Baba’s for 19 years, said: “What organisations, who have successfully maneuvered and prospered in such times have in common, is that they dared to be different.”

He pointed out that the potential downturn would not be unknown to Malaysians as the recession in the 80s, the Asian Financial Crisis in the 90s and the Global Financial Crisis of 2008 showed many took a leap ahead and created something new and exciting.

“This was the moment they transitioned from being a business to a brand. Repositioning themselves from merely selling products and services to offering a greater value proposition, becoming challenger brands and even usurping the lead in their categories from more established brands that chose to be more defensive,” he said.

Elaborating, he said that this had been proven in the past when local brands that had undertaken brand building aggressively during market contractions and explored new markets while improving quality, had grown from their humble roots as SMEs into today’s household names.

He goes further to say that one of the most effective ways to stand out in a competitive market is to build a strong brand identity which should be more than just a slogan or tagline or mission statement, but rather mean something to the consumer. 

“Ideally, a brand should find a position of uniqueness promoting what it stands for rather than what it sells. Its only competition being itself and ensuring that it retains its value, relevance and most importantly, the trust of its customers.

Brands should take this time to embrace data not only in the hope of knowing where to target their customers but also to sincerely get to know them and their ever-evolving expectations.”

“With fewer geographical restrictions plus 5G as an enabler and accelerator, brands can reach new markets and deliver messages in real time and should look to the innovations that will arise from this, catapult themselves ahead and establish the values they wish to be associated with in the eyes of the consumers,” he added.

Navin also said that as storm clouds gathered, organisations “would go low’, looking at how best to stay competitively priced, how to offer the best deals to customers and as often happens, brand building allocations are among the first to be cut – to facilitate discounts and promotions – leading to these organisations becoming commodities rather than brands.

“The silver lining however is that there will be some businesses that will undoubtedly seize the moment to rise from obscurity into the light. These will be our brands of tomorrow – and this is their moment!” he exclaimed.  

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