It’s the worst of times (according to some). But it’s the best of times according to many who understand how perfectly suited digital tools and tactics are to building brands in a down economy. These are the smart folks who didn’t immediately think about cutting bodies when the market started to go south but, rather, thought about how everything from search functionality to social media could help them increase productivity while paring budgets. Digital applications are becoming more and more sophisticated in their ability to let organizations listen to consumers and track actual buying behavior. Evolving search tools along with actionable metrics are paying off big time for savvy marketers, especially as they reap the rewards of search gone mobile. Watching as consumers compare, contrast and look for specific information wherever and however they want is a budgetary boon. Significant enhancements in data collection tools are enabling more precise targeting, more relevant messaging and communication via more relevant channels. Digitally astute companies are getting input on products and services often before they’re put into market resulting in better returns on branding investments. What’s more, the ability for consumers to share opinions with each other via review sites, social networks, blogs, and on industry chat pages is making the already powerful word-of-mouth dynamic an efficiency powerhouse. As organizations create platforms on which consumers can engage and give feedback, they’re building the foundations on which brand evangelists are born and nurtured, always a trusted – and free – source of branding communication. Last and definitely not least, digital technology is putting a renewed emphasis on creativity, proving that ingenuity trumps budget. Knowing what it takes to get a story line to go globally viral is a critical component to those experiencing branding success in this economic environment. It may be the worst of times for marketers, but only for those who don’t understand how effective and efficient digital technology can be when it comes to building brands. For those who do, it may be the best thing that’s ever happened.