You may not be thinking about how your brand culture will react to hard times. But Chris Wren (@chriswrenla) certainly has. In a September 2019 article “Leveraging Brand Culture to Combat Recessions,” he discusses things brands may want to consider in what he—and others—believe is the coming recession. “Market volatility, tariffs, Brexit, upcoming elections in the US, and economic indicators point to the high likelihood of a recession impacting consumers and brands soon.”
But first, what is the culture we’re referring to? Actually, it’s workplace culture, and it’s “the mark a job leaves on people. It’s what people say about where they work when they leave at night. And when they leave for other companies. It’s the way that where they work makes them feel.” Equally important, culture is about what makes employees both happy and unhappy, listening to what you hear from then, and, of course, caring what they say.
Mr. Wren points out that the world is different than it was during the Great Recession of 2008. Social media scrutiny, as it has with everything else, puts brands “under the spotlight in the way they compensate executives, how their employees are impacted, and changes that can happen through the supply chain.”
So, given that such a high percentage of employees are living paycheck to paycheck, Mr. Wren discusses approaches such as pay cuts and emergency loans, which can foster an “we’re all in this together” camaraderie. But he also notes the downside: these programs may not be enough. Proactivity is important. “When the recession hits, step up your internal corporate communications and encourage employee engagement.”
Like companies anticipating bad times, we should all think about how we manage our personal economics. They are integral to our brands. I was raised in a household that functioned by the maxim “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.” I’ve strayed, of course, from this New England austerity, yet, when I’m in adherent mode, I feel better. And I’m betting companies do too.