Should Brands Take a Stance on Social Issues?

a neon sign on a wall that says stand up

Climate change, immigration, healthcare, and equality were all issues that were previously taboo for companies to talk about. However, now the majority of consumers want brands to be vocal and take a stand on social and political issues.

In 2017 we saw companies start to become more vocal about social and political issues. We saw companies such as Patagonia take a stance to protect public land, Ben & Jerry’s fight against climate change, Cheerio’s create a campaign to protect bees, and tech giants such as Facebook, Amazon, Google, and Apple voice their opinions on political issues. We can only expect to see this trend to become increasingly important in 2018.

As consumers themselves are becoming more vocal on social issues, they are also expecting the companies they purchase from to support issues that they care about. This means that it’s becoming increasingly important for companies to voice their opinion correctly. Consumers are looking to companies to voice their opinion, even reaching out to them for their opinion so that they can better understand their values.

The problem about taking a stand is that it must be done correctly, in the correct venue and at the correct time. Joey Leslie, President of Matchfire, a cause marketing firm that helps brands identify and promote their causes, knows just how impactful taking a stand can be but he offers a few words of advice for those considering it. “There’s a time and a place for everything. The timing and platform where a brand takes a stand is often more important than the message. Brands have to resist the urge to jump into conversations where they don’t belong.”

In order to make sure that your message is powerful and resonates with your audience you have to make sure that the cause you support is relevant and relates back to the actions of your company. “Taking a stand on a social issue should always be authentically and organically related to the actual mission and purpose of the brand. Customers care about what brands do – not just what they say. Taking a public stand on an issue needs to reflect the core commitment of the brand as evidenced by it’s behavior in the supply chain, how it treats its own employees and vendors, and how it conveys that commitment to the end consumer.”

When it comes to taking a stand, actions speak louder than words. However, when executed correctly, taking a stand can help brands can craft an authentic and powerful message. When a brand’s actions align with their stance, it makes them transcend beyond just another corporate entity and shows that they care about more than just their bottom line. It gives companies a voice and a chance to advocate for social change.

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