In the last 5 years, we’ve witnessed businesses having to take stands on everything from social issues to culture and workplace environments. As odd as it may seen for a business to make a religious or political statement, it does make sense.
For a business to make a stand, it’s not the business doing so. If we remember that our association of a business and their promise is their “brand” then isn’t their stances on social issues just as much of an association? You see, when a business makes a statement, it’s in efforts of aligning their brand further with their audience. Yes, this could be in favor of revenue or in favor of a cause. That’s ultimately up to the audience to decide if their intentions are true or not. Either way, I propose this isn’t a public relations tactic as it is a strategic “brand relations” tactic.
As a business supports a political, religious, social, economic, etc. issue, their brand becomes woven to that topic which reveals more about the brand and who they are exactly. You see this in public figures as well, from musicians to celebrities — they will make a statement which can alter their personal brand forever simply because now the public views them differently. An obvious example of this is much more career-driven, as politicians base their entire career on this by altering and reining their personal brands to stand for certain movements or principles to gain attention, collect votes, and progress an agenda.
The power of “brand relations” is that you’re taking an existing, established and emotionally charged ideology and now attaching your name to it. By having leveraged an existing movement that already has momentum behind it, the brand is able to be propelled onto the shelves of those that align with the movement because the brand has been indirectly given the stamp of approval. Unfortunately, you have seen this tactic used where a company says they stand for something yet their practices aren’t up to snuff or reflecting the same values… (uh oh)
Brand relations will get you past the gatekeepers swiftly however. For your brand to withstand the new association, you must be sure your business backs it up. Whether that be your history, current actions, hiring practices, management, culture, or business practices — be sure the “proof is in the pudding.”
Now we can see the strategy of such brand relations and why it makes sense to see the surge of brands taking stances on issues. The brand — an emotional connection to its audience — is leveraging (and supporting) a cause that is emotional as well. This creates a power duo as now the emotional connection to the brand is working in tandem with a movement you hold dear to your heart.
I hate to boil down things down in such a dry way, but when it comes to strategy, sometimes the best way to examine a decision is by removing the emotions. Whether it’s religious, social, political, or just touching — when emotion is removed, it allows us to better see the issue and examine the best approach for furthering the conversation in a productive manner. This helps ensure there isn’t a company profiting from the movement. It also ensures that the people who need help are the ones getting it.
A business using brand relations to further their brand isn’t harmful, however the waters must be carefully treaded and ensure the bottom line isn’t the motive. Especially as more brands make statements in areas of emotionally charged associations. Businesses and consumers alike must be sure to search for authenticity above all else. By working together, the audience and brands can move mountains.
Originally published at https://ournegative.space