I originally started this cartoon as a series of panels on "recession survival tactics". I started thinking about different brands as "species" and I sketched a few panels with examples of how different brands approach the threat of recession: a turtle hiding in its protective shell, an ostrich with its head in the sand, etc.
Then I started sketching a panel on "blending into the herd", and I realized this would be fun to draw as a full cartoon (I may draw the other "species" later).
"Blending into the herd" feels like one of the most common responses to the recession. 2009 is full of so much risk on its own, businesses are becoming even more risk adverse than usual to compensate. The first projects to get cut are the speculative ones. Many companies are pulling back on innovation as a way to batten the hatches.
This defense is illusory though. If anything, retailers are facing even greater pressure to rationalize their shelves. Redundant products are in danger of getting cut. Consumers are shifting to cheaper private label if there's no compelling reason to buy branded products. Differentiation is more important than ever.
I think this climate creates a lot of opportunity for brands that are willing to try something new. The ones that can adapt the quickest and offer something truly unique have the potential to not only survive, but thrive.