Your brand needs to take a stand.
Whether brands and business owners should speak on political and social issues, is a conversation that I’ve had almost daily with my clients, friends, and colleagues. It has also been brought up as a question by attendees during my latest speaking engagements. So I decided to share with you a bit of useful information on the subject and some of my thoughts.
Trust is a huge factor in the consumer’s purchasing decisions. A portion of today’s consumers trust brands more than governments, and companies are getting left behind due to their lack of interest in adjusting to the actual needs of their markets.
Edelman, in their 2019 “In Brands We Trust?” special report shows that all across the board, for all markets, ages, incomes, and genders, brand trust is essential to buying. A big part of that trust is knowing where brands stand on specific social and political issues.
Product experience and customer experience are, of course, significant drivers for customer loyalty. A brand’s social impact can create a more reliable and more durable bond that can even transcend product quality and price point.
Business is now Personal– Valentina Gomez Bravo.
Product quality, pricing, and convenience are not enough to make a purchasing decision in today’s world. Consumers need more information to choose between you or your competitors, and those other factors sometimes outweigh how good, cheap, or accessible you are.
Depending on your ideal client profile, their priorities on what is important to them, and the values they connect with the most will differ. It is vital to get clarity on what your target market is looking for and how you can align that with your brand’s identity and core values to build trust and loyalty.
People want to do business with brands that they can connect with and express their values. Can your customers trust your brand to do what’s right?
“53 percent of consumers agree that every brand has a responsibility to get involved in at least one social issue that does not directly impact its business.”– 2019 Edelman Trust Barometer Special Report: In Brands We Trust?
Words matter, but actions matter more. It is not enough to make statements and social media posts about who you are and what you stand for; you need to back those up with real action. Ensure those values that you profess translate to tangible or identifiable actions that drive your words into a reality and create real impact. You can adapt your product, transform your teams, bring in new leadership, expand opportunities. You could also create new services, change your policies, foster new values, create programs, and overall improve the status quo. Do what makes sense to your brand and business but be intentional, cohesive, and consistent. You must talk the talk and walk the walk.
“56 percent of consumers say that too many brands are using societal issues as a marketing ploy.”– 2019 Edelman Trust Barometer Special Report: In Brands We Trust?
It has been interesting and exciting for me to see this relatively new “phenomenon” of brands speaking up and communicating where they stand. It feels like a new kind of corporate leadership is emerging, and I am all for it. Even if there is a part of it that’s motivated by a potential commercial gain, it is still significant and a big step in the right direction. The public is smart, and they will be able to tell when a brand is being authentic or just trying to score brownie points just for show.
We need to create more empathetic brands. This cause is at the heart of my and Bunker +58’s mission whenever I work with entrepreneurs to develop the brands of our present and future.
You can no longer stand in the sidelines and hope that people don’t notice. Staying silent is making a statement in itself.
If you are unsure of the best way to take a stand, I invite you to consider a few things. Ask yourself these questions.
#1: Am I willing to take in, accept, and confront the potential consequences?
Will you be willing and able to live with the good and the bad that will inevitably come from your business and brand taking a stand on whatever issue, topic, or cause you want to speak out about? Are you and your team ready to receive it all?
#2: If a polarizing or controversial conversation arises. Am I able to understand, process, and manage my emotions as I approach the conversations in a rational, controlled, and maybe even positive and constructing manner?
After all, we are talking about business and something greater than ourselves. Will you be able to handle things in the best way possible for all parties involved?
#3: Are your words and actions aligned with your brand’s core values, mission, and vision?
Brand messaging alignment is crucial when deciding anything that pertains to your business and brand. Not only your marketing, product development, and customer service need to take these into account. This is your compass for absolutely everything that has to do with your brand.
If you answered YES to all of these, fear no more and share what your brand and business have to say confidently and powerfully. The right customers and audience will embrace you and connect with you.
If your answer is NO to any or all of these, this is not a “get out of jail free card,” this is just an invitation to do some brand work (and some personal work as well) and find out why you are not there yet. How can you get to that point as an entrepreneur and leader so you can stand with confidence and build a strong brand that connects with your ideal consumers and your community?
When you’re ready to take a stand, remember:
- Be authentic
- Please take into account the values and psychological drivers of your audience.
- Align with your customer’s way of civic expression.
- Tap into your customer’s drivers and act on them.
Everything should come from a place where your customer’s values, business, brand values, authenticity, and action collide.
Richard Edelman said it best when talking about building trust between your brand and your consumer. “It’s now not just a job people are doing in marketing,” he adds, “it’s a vital part of society.”
If you want to keep the conversation going, please comment, share or reach out.
If you want to read the full “2019 Edelman Trust Barometer Special Report In Brands We Trust?” you can do that here.