Recessions were the cradle of some of the world's most iconic brands, says business historian Nancy F. Koehn, and there's no reason to think history can't repeat itself. Business mainstays Heinz, IBM and Procter & Gamble all made their names during financial crises, Koehn notes, by aggressively expanding their product lines, marketing departments, or research and development groups. The current crisis isn't so different from the ones before it, Koehn says, and it still presents companies with a chance to get ahead by innovating when others are down.

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