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BLOG June 2, 2017

In A Super Political Environment, Brands Need To Find A Balance

The environment today is super political and it seems like no one can escape it. Brands too have to weigh in on social and political issues. This, however, is a challenge for brands. You have to connect with potential customers many of whom you don’t relate to on important issues. How can brands walk the thin line of voicing your opinion and at the same time keeping your customers happy?

There are political issues and then there are political issues. Some of these issues charge people, their emotions are riled up and they become entangled in one issue after another. This is a risky place to be. You need to be careful on what you plan to get involved in. Avoiding super political, charged up issues are wise. For instance, Starbucks got highly involved in Donald Trump’s travel ban by starting they would hire 10,000 refugees. While they had an overwhelmingly positive response, there were plenty of calls for boycott. What has happened since? While there doesn’t seem to be a significant change in its growth rate, according to research conducted by the company itself, a slower than expected growth was visible in the 2nd quarter. If this was a result of political involvement is yet to be known.

Focus on causes that are less controversial. One of the main reasons brands are jumping onto the political bandwagon is because they feel some issues are simply too important to ignore. And in this instance, you may be right. Brands have a voice and this voice can be used for the good of the people. However, instead of taking sides it makes more sense to rally around brand core values and ask your customers to get behind them. Learn to support causes without the political baggage.

Demonstrate your value and commitment to social causes like for instance, Elsevier did last year. They partnered with Doctors without Borders to fight against Africa’s health challenges. Elsevier gifted $300,000 grant towards research and training. These initiatives are still social topics and ones that brands can get involved in without causing damage or facing repercussions

There is bias everywhere you go. And bias isn’t always bad. Brands cannot and shouldn’t pretend it doesn’t exist. There is no longer room to shrug your shoulders and walk the other way. Speak up when it is necessary, make strategic recommendations but ensure you credibly represent your customer base.




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