Recent findings reveal that 74% of Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs) believe that brand management has been more stressful in the last six months compared to the peak of the pandemic, underscoring the increased challenges faced by marketers due to ongoing economic turbulence.

This research, conducted on behalf of the brand management platform Frontify, provides deeper insights into the implications of the tough economic landscape. Marketing heads have responded by scaling back on external agency support (46%) and implementing departmental budget cuts (45%), moves they acknowledge are affecting their brand-building endeavours. Additionally, the increasing prices of products present further hurdles for marketers, with 47% noting the challenges.

Resilience in Brand Investments Amidst Economic Strains

Despite the economic headwinds, marketers remain resolute in their commitment to investing in their brands. A significant 87% of CMOs have funnelled resources into brand building this year, and an even higher 88% believe it’s crucial to allocate funds to brands during recessions. As the focus shifts to fortifying brand resilience, marketers are adopting both long-term and short-term growth strategies. For CMOs, brand distinctiveness tops the list at 47% as the key to fostering brand resilience in trying times. This is closely followed by the importance of a robust performance team (41%) and the necessity of tight links between customer insights and the brand (40%).

Hiring Trends and Rebranding Efforts in the Marketing Realm

Furthermore, there’s a clear reflection of the significance of brand in organisational structures. A notable 83% of marketing leaders have brought on board a Chief Brand Officer in the previous two years. Even amidst challenging economic scenarios, half of the marketers (51%) have committed to rebrands and brand refreshes in the past 24 months. The outcome of these efforts seems positive, with 79% of CMOs confirming the success of their brand refresh. However, it’s not without its share of concerns. CMOs express apprehensions about brand refreshes adding to their team’s workload (41%) and the potential spike in branding mistakes (40%).

Channel Prioritisation in an Era of Budgetary Constraints

Operating within tight budgetary confines, CMOs are crystallising their branding priorities and optimising their branding investments. Topping the list of effective channels for brand building is social media marketing, at 26%, trailed by direct marketing, which stands at 18%.

Expert Opinions on Branding and Rebranding

Roger Dudler, CEO and founder of Frontify, commented on the situation, stating that while brand leaders face mounting pressures to uphold brand resilience and equity, achieving brand resilience is a long-haul effort. Dudler emphasises the importance of understanding the primary concerns and results-drivers for marketing heads to ensure effective budgetary use and lasting brand resilience.

Sharing her thoughts on rebranding, Red Godfrey, VP Creative at Nordstrom, highlighted the challenges faced by internal teams. Godfrey pointed out the importance of external brand expertise in navigating these challenges. She also drew attention to the significant cost implications of rebranding physical assets, especially when dealing with numerous physical locations.

Lastly, Lee Rolston, Chief Growth Officer at JKR, stressed the importance of brand distinctiveness. Citing studies with Ipsos, Rolston noted that a mere 15% of brand assets tested stood out, underlining the urgent need to address this within the sector.