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Every day we are bombarded with news about the economy—bank busts, bailouts and buyouts, rising jobless claims, more home foreclosures, declining consumer confidence, the unfolding "stimulus package," a national budget crisis...

In the marketing world, we hear a similar drumbeat about the fallout: dismal corporate earnings, company layoffs, marketing budget cuts, advertising gone dark, clients and agencies and people coming and going, a brand budget crisis—there is a sense of turbulence, malaise, and timidity...

We see a diminishing commitment to long-term brand building. The mission of the moment is driven by the CFO, not the CMO (if he or she is still in place), and calls for cost-cutting and short-term revenue-generating activities only.

Lead generation is "in." Immediate demand stimulus and call to action are the rage (the term "stimulus" has a sort of currency). Brand strategy and market research are "out" of fashion perhaps.

The decline, then, of brands and branding?

Not so fast.

There is a weighty and consistent body of historical data showing that marketers do harm, in the short-run and long-run, to their businesses and brands by kneejerk budget-slashing and by running scared.

A study of B2B marketing over six recessions in the 20th century found that not only did sales and profits decline for brands that cut brand-oriented advertising during the recession but also performance continued to lag upon the subsequent recovery. (The Buchen Agency)

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Kevin Randall is director of brand strategy and research at Movéo Integrated Branding (www.moveo.com), a brand consulting and marketing communications firm based in Oakbrook Terrace, IL. Kevin can be reached at krandall@moveo.com and 630.570.4813.