What brands inspire you? What brands do you feel connected to?
Have you ever thought about why you love those brands?
It could be because those brands have chosen to stand behind a cause that you also might be passionate about or that might resonate with you. Typically, CEOs and company leaders are responsible for helping decide which cause their brand will stand behind.
According to a 2020 study, 68% of Americans think CEOs should take a stand on social issues. That’s a 9% increase from 2019. Two-thirds of those who said that CEOs have a responsibility also said leaders should do so on issues that don’t directly impact their business.
Taking a stand can impact a brand’s image in a positive way, such as Patagonia’s mission to save the planet. Companies like Patagonia show such commitment to their cause that it becomes engrained in their brand’s story. Conversely, when executed poorly, we’ve seen it backfire like we did with the Kendall Jenner Pepsi ad in 2017. You might be wondering what factors make or break these outcomes.
If you are a CEO or a company leader, here are the top three things to consider before your brand takes a stand.
- Ensure alignment. You’ve chosen the position you want your company to take on a cause. You’ve ensured that the position aligns with your company’s values and overall brand story, but does this position align with your personal beliefs? As the company leader, if you are not personally invested in the cause, it simply will not work. The position taken must ring true to you, not just the company, for it to seem authentic and genuine or you’ll risk losing public trust.
- Walk the walk. You’re aligned with the company’s position and feel secure with the decision. As the organization’s leader, are you willing to act on the position being taking? Far too often, company leaders will jump on a bandwagon cause to gain exposure, but if you are not truly passionate about the cause and willing to show action it can lead to backlash. You must show the public how your organization is actively showing up for the cause you say you care about. Leaders should be able to share the actionable steps they are taking to make a difference. Simply saying the right words doesn’t cut it anymore.
- Do your research. Before you go public with your stance, you must conduct in-depth research. Once you’ve landed on your cause and you’re aligned on the position internally, the real work can begin. Taking a stand should not be considered lightly and asking for help is a wise idea. A good starting place is to enlist the help of a consulting agency to begin in-depth research for your company before crafting the messaging around your brand’s stance. There’s always a chance that you need to start from scratch depending on what the research and consulting work discovers. Consulting agencies have the expertise and background to help your brand craft thoughtful messaging with actionable ideas to back it up.
While taking a stand can be intimidating and even risky, it has the potential to greatly benefit the cause at hand while simultaneously enhancing brand reputation when executed well.
Are you ready to take a stand, but not sure where to start? Let’s talk about it.