The actions and words of brands matter to consumers. Although politics and other areas of culture are becoming more polarized, companies can still build consumer loyalty as long as they are authentic about the causes and values they support.
In fact, according to recent studies, companies can damage their reputation and credibility if they choose not to voice their stances on important subjects.
About 70% of consumers believe that companies need to take a stand on political and social issues because they have the power to reach a large number of people and to create real societal change. For a company to decide when it should make a statement or talk about a social issue, it first needs to understand what its customers and employees expect from it, and what it stands for and supports.
Companies should also be aware of the reactions they’re going to receive from the public if they decide to stay silent on an important matter, and then communicate with the company’s executives or company leaders on who is going to make the statement for the business.
Companies shouldn’t simply be releasing any statements about important issues that align with the values of the brand. Instead, they should take a step back to figure out how to make a statement in a meaningful way. If a social issue aligns with the brand itself, by acknowledging that connection, it can have a stronger impact on the public with its statement on it.
An example of a company doing this is the website Baby Names, which helps people research and discover names for their future children. The platform connected itself with the Black Lives Matter movement by sharing a list of names of Black people that have died at the hands of police.
At the start of every year, many brands are predictable when they share some version of Martin Luther King Jr.’s popular “I have a dream” message on their social media channels to commemorate Martin Luther King Jr. Day. However, those messages don’t resonate with audiences because they’ve been overused. Instead of taking an obvious stance, companies should be thinking about creating statements and messages that make an impact on the public.
To deepen their relationships with the existing audience, companies should share thoughtful messages, similar to what Ben & Jerry’s does. On Instagram, the ice cream brand talked about Dr. King’s message and how diluted it has become due to its overuse by many brands. Instead of talking about King’s “I have a dream” speech, the business decided to talk about some of his lesser-known quotes.
When a company decides to make a statement about a social issue, it should also consider providing some resources, or a way to support the people that are affected by that issue. This strategy will make a company’s message a lot more impactful.
An example of this is when Oreo celebrated Pride month by hosting a sweepstake and giving away boxes of rainbow-colored Oreos in the formation of different pride flags. The brand also partnered with PFLAG on a series of Instagram posts that explained how allies, friends, and parents of LGBTQ+ people can respond when someone comes out.