Since the World Bank forecasted a global recession for 2023, the world has become frightened about the future and cautious about managing our expenses this year.
And indeed, financial recessions have impacted every aspect of our lives many times before, and there are plenty of reasons why we must take such an attitude.
The great depression in the ’30s, the oil crisis in the early ’70s, and the global financial crisis in the first decade of the 2000s, to name some of the most recent economic recessions, made humanity face distress, poverty, famine, lack of essential goods and job opportunities, and general uncertainty.
And here we go again. We are facing times of economic speculation where personal challenges and unhealthy coping strategies might appear, causing a domino effect that affects every aspect of our lives, impacting our companies, jobs, and financial capacity, to our family’s mental and emotional well-being.
The Chief Economics Outlook of the World Economic Forum in January 2023 claimed that 63% of companies expect a global recession this year, 86% will reduce costs by cutting operational expenses, 78% by laying off workers, and 77% by optimising supply chains.
In truth, we are not financial experts, and it’s not in our role to dive deeper into such economic predictions and how they will affect us individually and collectively. Instead, we are a digital design agency that works with brands that provide services to people.
And this is why, based on our real expertise, this article aims to highlight how a resilient attitude and adaptive design can help international founders and their companies go through times of crisis management, overcome diversity and develop resilience.
Acknowledging customers’ cautious behaviour, offering solutions to their most basic needs, and becoming their helpers instead of sellers are some strategies that will make your company stand out from the crowd.
Resilience in Business: Creative adaptability during a recession.
Resilience is one of the most powerful qualities in the natural world. Species embodying this unique capacity can survive even the most challenging weather conditions and environments.
And, of course, we are not separate from nature. In the business world, brands that can go through difficult times and successfully adapt to new conditions, even during a recession and market uncertainty, are destined to thrive.
And design and branding can significantly help you take advantage of these challenging times and use them to grow.
How can design and branding help your company thrive during a recession?
#1. Adapt to what your customer needs
As we mentioned, a recession can awaken anxiety and distress and push us to activate our survival mode, forcing us to reduce expenses that we considered relevant before and categorise them as unnecessary.
Such natural reactions from your customers can completely modify how they think about your products, services, and even your brand and its importance in their lives. This could be a massive problem for many brands, but not all.
Resilient brands are utterly aware of such challenges and psychological dynamics and change their internal and external behaviour to adapt to the new conditions of the market. When building resilience, design and branding can be primary helpers when you must let customers know you are willing to change to meet their current needs.
Microsoft embodied a clear example of this attitude. In times of Covid-19, this tech leader was open and available for the demands of their environment and came out with Microsoft Teams. This innovative solution solved customers’ problems by allowing them to meet and track employees’ work remotely regardless of lockdown.
#2. Become a compassionate friend rather than a desperate seller.
In times of recession, people are going through tremendous amounts of stress and uncertainty, which can awaken increased sensitivity and reactivity in them.
During such dramatic times, they don’t need to be offered things but instead to be embraced and understood. Brands that express psychological resilience and provide comfort and support to their clients are destined to survive.
Design and branding can help you embrace your customers with new compassionate communication that understands their internal challenges and supports them through their processes.
For example, during the COVID-19 pandemic, Dove launched a campaign called #CourageIsBeautiful, which featured real women on the frontlines of the pandemic, such as healthcare workers and first responders. The campaign aimed to show appreciation for these women while promoting self-confidence and courage. And at the same time, it confirmed its positioning as a brand that encourages self-love and self-esteem in women.
Letting your customers know that your service or product is there for them to give them solace amid difficulties are great ways to approach them during these periods. However, such messaging needs to be authentic. If your message is not based on genuine compassion, they will feel it clearly, which will be detrimental to your company.
Remember, acknowledging that your customers are human beings like you, with their natural ups and down, has always been the key to building a long-lasting connection with your audience.
#3. Testing times are times for growth
With its daily challenges, recession can make us feel impotent, hopeless, and paralysed. And it’s natural to feel so.
What is detrimental for your business is to stay in such a doubtful period longer than needed and to make rushed decisions from that space. This is why being capable of getting out of such a mood quickly and returning to inner stability and mature self-confidence is a crucial attitude for a brand.
Healthy risk management and organisational resilience are vital. They will show your employees that they are part of a solid endeavour that can face any storm gracefully and give them reasons to offer their best for their team and your company.
It will also let your customers know that you are present for them regardless of external changing conditions and that your service is highly-valuable to their lives.
Another great example is Etsy, during the early stages of the pandemic, Etsy astutely recognised a market for handmade masks. By September 2020, masks accounted for 10% of Etsy's gross merchandise sales, generating $600 million.
Design strategies and solutions can help you greatly to communicate this stable quality, internally and externally. They will help you position your brand as an unbreakable and grounded company where your audience can find refuge.
Indeed, brands are tested during a crisis, but every test could motivate growth.
#4. Stay Consistent, no matter what
During times of recession, business continuity is vital. Unfortunately, many founders and managers fall into the trap of believing that cutting costs on marketing and design is the most suitable decision and end up failing inevitably.
We are not saying this because we are a design agency that needs your money, but because it is true. Cutting your communication with your beloved customers when they need you most will vanish your brand from their minds and hearts.
The aim is not to cut on design and branding expenses but instead to invest in clear strategies to help you target your audience more intelligently.
According to a New Yorker article, during the Great Depression, Post cereal made significant marketing cuts. At the same time, Kellogg’s, on the other hand, doubled its advertising investment and promoted its new Rice Krispies cereal on the radio. The result? A 30% profit increase for Kellogg’s.
There are several examples, like the latter, in which design, advertising, and marketing have helped companies immensely and helped them thrive in economic crises.
Designing for resilience is not an expense but an ally.
Predictions say that 2023 will bring a global economic recession, especially after the Covid-19 pandemic affected many businesses and people worldwide. Yet, collectively, we have been here before. Times of crisis have shown us that no matter what happens on the outside, we can still thrive, grow and become even more stable than before the challenges appeared.
In the business world, the same insights apply. Many companies have gone through dark periods of financial uncertainty but adapted their service based on their customer’s most actual needs, became compassionate and accompanied them through their emotional processes, became more creative amid challenges, and stayed consistent in their internal and external communication.
Such brands have proved the efficiency of business resilience and the design and branding strategies that made them thrive. And most importantly, they have shown that it’s possible to grow to become unshakable enterprises during a global crisis.
We hope this article gave you enough reasons why investing in your resilience as a company and keeping your design and branding strategies alive are primordial means to face the external challenge and keep growing through constant innovation and adaption to your current customers’ needs.
Believe us; you won’t regret it.