Questioning whether your brand should take a political stance is now more important than it has ever been in my whole 22 years of living on this planet. Trump, tragically, became president, but was luckily voted out last month. We spoke up about the importance of black lives matter, the necessary me-too rights movement and not to forget about climate change and many more important issues. Reasons enough to speak out as a brand. But is it a smart move to make in the cancel culture that we live in today, or should you be Switzerland and remain neutral?
We are quickly opinionated.
As a reader you have probably already made up your mind whether you will find this article interesting or not. That does not have to be due to my writing style or because of me personally, but that’s because you’ve probably already figured out my political preferences, since I’ve hinted on this in the introduction. Therefore, if you did not agree with this statement, you’re probably already negative about the substance of this article beforehand.
Confrontation through elections.
As of 2020 I have this new found political interest that first started to show when the possibility of Joe Biden becoming president of the United States was very likely. My trust in humanity returned. But it also made me realize how polarized our world has become. Of course, this has not been something of recent years and has been happening for ages, but it had never really occurred to me before. I suddenly found myself part of this polarization by disliking people who supported another political party, other than the one that I supported. To be in the middle of this as a brand seems extremely difficult to me.
Carefully consider your stance.
That’s is why it is extremely important as a brand to consider very carefully whether you want to express your political preferences or not, because many people will immediately judge and disapprove. But there will also be many who will appreciate and support your company even more.
As I said before, living in a cancel culture, meaning being boycotted very quickly, is a risk that you have to take as a brand. You should consider the possible opportunities and pitfalls and also reach for assistance if a move goes wrong. Organizations that can help you with this are branding agencies, they know where the opportunities lie and how you can profile yourself in the current market.
However, as times have changed, most companies are unfortunately no longer able to remain neutral and many are pushed to express their political views. Staying neutral in these situations often does more damage than good to a brand.
Today’s generation rules.
A large influential group that is very much in favour of voicing an opinion are millennials. They are a great advocate of improving the community. In fact, research shows that 39% of millennials would rather buy from a brand that expresses their political views. So, it is somewhat a yes or no question for many brands, whether they are going to express their political opinion or not.
Nike knows best.
A good example of a brand that has always been very explicit in expressing their political stance, is Nike. Nike is not afraid to speak up for what they stand for and therefore, accepts the negative feedback they receive every now and then.
Because Nike has very efficiently figured out their mission and vision, thus thought about the people they want to reach, it has been a requirement for them to express their political preference. Nike definitely would not have the strong and progressive image they have today, had they not done this.
A good example of a campaign where Nike has been very clear in expressing their political views, is when they made Colin Kaepernick the new face of their campaign. Kaepernick was one of the first NFL players to kneel during a game, against the police treatment of black civilians.
By making Kaepernick the new face, Nike showed that they support his statement and that they are against discrimination of black people. Many Nike supporters were not grateful for this and started to protest against Nike, for example by burning their shoes on video. Whereas luckily the majority of the world has shown their immense support for the brand, they even started a whole viral trend. The supporters Nike already had are now loyal fans.
As a company you have to think very carefully about the political opinion you want to get across, because you can face some negative backlash from people. If you want to remain neutral, by not sharing any political views about social issues, you have to consider that this could cause negative consequences and may even be received as ignorant. Since it is clear that the current generation is aware of the importance of taking a political stand. Reaching out to a PR agency is therefore advised.