It’s 2020, the conversations you lead and the stories you tell are easily and readily accessible by all. With a quick Google search, people are able to find a magnitude of information on a brand/business; both good and bad.
It’s up to us as brands to help shape and convey the messages we send out. If you’re a small business, it’s the perfect time. Small businesses have the ability to shift and adapt, it’s a lot harder on the top level to be able to do that, but we’re seeing things happen there now. If you can’t show full transparency in what you do, people will think you’re hiding and make assumptions. So, why not control what goes out? As a medium to large brand, you have an audience. It’s almost seen as a social responsibility to speak.
It stems deep, real deep.
The main reason people get offended is because they feel it’s a personal attack on their own belief system. There is a great Ted Talk by Theo E.J. Wilson “a black man goes undercover in the alt-right’ and he dives right into the cultural upbringings on the way people think. It actually goes on to say he even respected some of these people if it wasn’t for their blatant point of view difference with racism. Right now, it’s up to us to help educate, listen and understand. It’s time for us as the ‘privileged’ to listen and educate ourselves on what we’ve been told over and over again – we just chose not to listen or act.
What if people get offended?
Let us put it this way, if some people get offended over something you believe in, are they even people you want to be working with anyway? Of course, some people will get offended. Though with the scale of how important this issue is, do you actually care about offending someone who stands an opposing view to you on something so significant? That choice is yours to make.
Just be prepared for the response and have something ready to go.
Conversations lead to change.
Firstly, if you’re putting content up that doesn’t generate some kind of conversation, your content is probably too generic. It’s important to use your platforms to spark conversation, it not only helps people understand your brand better, but it helps you to understand your ideal audience. Small conversations lead to change, not only for you as the educator or for the awareness perspective, but your audience can also provide added insight and value which can help you learn and grow as a brand.
It shows your culture and your values.
When you provide insight as to who you are as a brand, people know whether they want to align with you, buyer or non-buyer. And yes, a non-buyer can be one of your biggest brand champions so I would never disregard them. Think about all the people who follow Chanel vs. the people who actually buy from them. Chanel hold a level of sophistication. They’re a brand who have strong connotations to elegance, sexiness and quality. When people buy from them, they’re buying those associations.
People want to know that they’re investing or following brands that not only have or do cool shit. They want to align themselves with them from a personal level. Samsung vs Apple, put simply, it’s hardware. If you speak to people who are loyalists of both brands and it’s much deeper than that. It’s the things they do, the way they convey themselves, the associations that come with it. The same applies with the whole PC vs. Mac stance. So much so that Apple made a whole campaign on it – Apple vs. PC.
It contributes to the greater cause.
Sometimes things are bigger than us and in the case of making historic change it’s important we use our voices and platforms to align with the larger message. These generally require hard conversations or political viewpoints, but this is where we need to weigh up the positives vs. negatives. What means more to you as a brand, making change or continuing as normal. It’s important for us brands and influential people to align ourselves with things that matter. The audience who follows you, follow you for a reason. This is your decision.
What do you say?
People expect you to say something. If you don’t know what to say, share resources that are from credible sources, show support to others that align with the cause, show a stance of solidarity to the campaign or cause. Saying nothing can be as poisonous as saying the wrong thing. Just know that sometimes there is no right thing to say, you just show your support in whatever way you can. In relation to the George Floyd issue, it’s the realisation from white people that they can never understand but that they can ‘choose’ to listen and learn.
There will always be pressing cultural and systematic issues, hopefully less than what we’re seeing today. Brand values and narrative have also evolved with culture. Large brands signify certain stereotypes and audiences so it’s important to have a voice in that arena. Nike do a bang-up job of this every time. Just know what aligns with your own brand values and if it’s something you choose to discuss, then have at it and brace yourself.
Ways to help
- Black Lives Matter
- Warriors of the Aboriginal Resistance
- Bridging the Gap
- Children’s Ground
- Triple J Hack – Ways you can support Aboriginal Lives Matter
- Frankie – Supporting Black Lives Matter Movement
Tara Ladd is a Premium member of Business Chicks (and a member of Business Club!), and the Founder and Creative Director of Your One and Only, a brand and design studio that creates brand identities and creative solutions that gear brands for growth. You can find her sharing insights about brand, design and marketing on Instagram and Facebook.