Brand activism has become a surprising trend in the last decade.
In the past few years, brand managers could separate from political controversy. However, brands feel forced to take sides; and sometimes, those sides have nothing to do with the brand. According to Drexel University Marketing Professor Daniel Korschun, the brand activism trend is not going away and will be here for the foreseeable future. He encourages brand managers to “understand whether and how to engage.”
In his article, Brand Activism is Here to Stay, Korschun provides tips for brands to have a successful political impact AND business performance.
- Understand the needs of the stakeholders. Marketers need to stop and listen. Assess the position and be mindful of how it may affect relationships. Based on the stakeholders, brand activism may not suit your brand.
- Don’t be afraid to take the lead on issues. Lately, associating with risky brands is admired. Research shows that brands that take a leadership position earn more rewards than brands that follow. Consider your brand taking a stand and setting the tone for public discourse.
- Walk the talk. It is not enough to take a public stand on an issue. Credibility is the core of brand activism. Practice what you preach by starting and maintaining initiatives that support your brand views.
- Don’t be accused of hiding something. Remember that transparency is essential because it’s one way of showing authentic concern. Korschun suggests installing rules to avoid the abuse of power of all those involved to keep the brand’s reputation intact.
- Know the risks (fully) of taking a stand. Researchers have found that engaging in activism may be riskier for brands with high-market shares than brands with smaller shares because dominant brands have more customers and fewer to gain. To assess impact, focus on the customer or client acquisition instead of retention.
- Interactions matter. Personal brands can damage a business brand. To control repercussions, marketers should monitor all personalities associated with the brand. Start with spokespersons and paid influencers, but do not neglect the CEO, employees, and partner organizations. Brands should consider anyone who speaks on behalf of the brand.
- Prepare for the unexpected. Korschun encourages marketers to forge strong ties with colleagues in government affairs, public relations, and other crisis-mitigating fields to be ready.
Under the right conditions, brand activism can influence public discourse and improve brand reputation.
It is not going away; therefore, marketers should prepare. But first, decide if it’s the right thing to do for the brand. Glint Advertising can help you decide with our Brandskeyp tool. It is an affordable alternative that may save you time, money, and reputation loss.
Source: Daniel Korschun. “Brand Activism Is Here to Stay: Here’s Why.” NIM Marketing Intelligence Review 13.2 (2021): 11–17. Web.