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.
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serge the concierge says
Happy New Year
Wondered whether I could use your illustration (with attribution and link of course)for my ‘Monday Work Etiquette’ bit on ‘Serge the Concierge’
Have a great day
‘The French Guy from New Jersey’
Tom Fishburne says
Hi Serge, yes please feel free. I’m glad you liked it… -Tom
Jon Moss says
Love it Tom – on the money. May I also use the illustration on my blog and link?
Thanks for the call today 🙂
Tom Fishburne says
Absolutely, Jon, glad it struck a chord. Great catching up today too! -Tom
Mark Sage says
Great article Tom – love the cartoon and you’re right on the money in terms of brands creating a point of difference. It’s times like this when people stop purchasing on auto-pilot and begin to rationalise why they started using a brand – now is the time for brands to re-ignite that point of difference that sets them apart and provide the compelling reason to remain loyal.
I read an article recently, probably in Business Week, that it is during times of recession when great innovations occur. However, the innovation doesn’t come from established businesses. The innnovators are those who have lost their jobs through downsizing or company closings. With their proverbial backs against the wall, these entrepreneurs create new products and new markets as a kind of survival instinct.