Brands are a representation of the attitude, philosophies and aspirations of a company, but its development is as influenced by outside forces as by inside ones. Competitors and customers are two obvious examples of outside forces that can and should have an impact on the development of a brand. But prevailing events in the world at large can have an influence as well. The current recession, coupled with the abuses and scandals of the financial market, will have a great impact on brands in the future.

History offers some proof. For example, we saw how the euphoria of the era affected the brand and marketing of many companies. We also saw how brands changed when the bubble burst. Companies seemingly went from edgy and irreverent to buttoned-up and business-like overnight.

Going forward, lessons will be learned from our current economic mess and business in the future will be decidedly different. Out of necessity, post-recession companies will make fundamental changes in how they do business. They will need to continue to find ways to streamline and become more efficient. How they do this will invariably affect how they interact with and be perceived by their customer base. 

As a result of this change and to dispel any lingering negative attitudes toward business, companies will want to present the image of a more sober, down-to-earth company. This doesn’t mean that brands will become  conservative or uninteresting. Quite the opposite. The companies that survive this economic downturn will have a new-found optimism, energy, and confidence. And instead of flaunting their wealth, as companies have in the past, they will present themselves as a friend and partner to their customers. All of this will undoubtedly show up in their brand as well.

What visual trends emerge remains to be seen. Many factors, both internal and external will continue to influence a company’s brand. And medical device developers don’t have the baggage that companies in the financial sector currently will have to deal with.  But having been carried along on the recession tide along with every other company,  they will still have to address many of the same issues facing companies tomorrow. 

For a new business or an existing business contemplating change, it’s still important to be true to the principles and philosophies the company is built on, and all branding decisions should be based on solid research and thinking. Existing businesses should assess their brand and try to determine if a change is needed. Regardless of what size a business is — from a start-up to a large global firm — there is little doubt that the dawn of a new economic era will make its mark on companies.