Posted by Nixon
7 May, 2024

In tricky times, investing in building a strong and resilient brand matters more than ever.

From shared experience, we all know that the last few years have been challenging. Sustained global uncertainty, rising costs, and difficulty hiring have all placed business owners and marketing managers under pressure. 

But recent research conducted by Frontify shows that although times can be hard (with almost 50% of those surveyed raising the price of their products or services), successful CMOs (chief marketing officers) are still investing in long-term brand-building activities.

The study, compiling the views of 450 CMOs across the UK, US, and DACH region (Germany, Austria and Switzerland) highlights many surprising findings. Sitting alongside this, Up to the Light has just published its 2024 ‘What Clients Think’ report, collating the feedback of 675 creative agency clients. Here, we’ll delve into some of the most interesting conclusions, while also adding our own thoughts for good measure.

Long-term value beats short-term gain

90% of CMOs are actively investing in building their brand.

When things are tight, the temptation is always to cut costs. It’s understandable, but it’s also unwise; if you don’t invest in growing your brand, your profits won’t grow, either. Here, we can play around with the classic quote, ‘when times are good, you should advertise; when times are bad, you must advertise.’ But what happens when we broaden our viewpoint from purely advertising to the richer and more rewarding world of brand building?

Investing in brand building means clearly communicating what you’re promising to customers, delivering on those promises, doing so consistently, and making your brand visible (and compelling) to your audiences. It’s the area where brand strategy, identity and marketing converge, and it’s where hard work leads to tangible rewards. In contrast with activities like performance marketing, which pursue short-term gain, brand building is all about the long game.

Originality always wins out

A strong, original brand concept and brand story are integral to achieving brand resilience.

In a world of AI, influencer marketing, paid promotions, and cheap substitutes, we all crave originality. This is something we’ve found from our own experience, but it’s also backed up by the Frontify research: when asked what makes a brand resilient, the largest proportion (41.5%) opted for “A strong original brand concept”. The ‘What Clients Think’ report echoes this, with 95% of clients agreeing that ‘great creativity has the power to move a brand forward’.


Alongside this sits the originality and strength of your brand story. That’s because today, consumers really do invest time in making good choices. They want to hear why you do what you do, what you care about, and how you’re working towards your brand mission. They also want to see how you do it; to find the kind of consistent brand experience that speaks of authenticity. As Ian Rowden, CMO of Virgin Group says, ‘The best brands are built on great stories’.


For this reason, although AI is rising in popularity – nearly 60% of CMOs are using it to create brand assets – it’ll never satisfactorily span all areas of a brand’s strategy and output. However useful it may be (and the Nixon studio is divided on this), AI can’t feel, and it can’t translate the many unique and nuanced factors that make a brand original. Only you, with the help of a dedicated brand agency, can do that.

Rebrand to reinvigorate

80% of CMOs considered their rebrand to be a success

There can often be a comfort in familiarity, meaning embarking on a rebrand can be a nerve-racking process. But, as we’re so often reminded, change can be an important catalyst for growth. Within the last year, household names including Eurostar, Pepsi, Nescafe, and Johnson and Johnson have all taken the plunge.


When it’s done well, with genuine reflection and strategic thinking, rebranding is a transformative process. This isn’t just about changing your logo (though this remains top of the list for many). It’s about taking a fresh look at your values, differences, audience needs, and overarching mission.


From this, you can de-risk the process by making informed decisions; ultimately creating an updated identity that really resonates with your audiences. Little surprise, then, that a whopping 80% of CMOs considered their rebrand to be a success. If you’re still in need of a nudge, check out our latest rebrands (and our clients’ thoughts on them) for Jacksons and Lemongrass