Brand activism has recently taken the spotlight in the land of digital marketing. From 2020 to now, global activism has undeniably reached its pinnacle. These days, consumers value honesty and authenticity above all else, and they’re constantly supporting brands that are able to speak out for a cause.
However, expressing a political viewpoint has always been difficult and doing so can be challenging for businesses to navigate. Large numbers of the consumer demographics, such as millennials, search for brands that care about more than just money.
What is Brand Activism?
Brand Activism is when a business takes a stand on a social, environmental, economic, or political issue. Companies may actively support a cause because it aligns with their core values/ vision of the brand, for good publicity, to boost their bottom line, or for various other reasons.
Businesses may help their cause by making a public statement, campaigning, donating money to specific groups and organisations, volunteering, or making a statement through their ads and promotional campaigns.
Read also: Brand activation as key to building brand equity
One of the tricky aspects of today’s tumultuous political climate is ensuring that your brand’s advocacy is seen as genuine.
Making a statement isn’t enough anymore; buyers want to see progress that backs up your stance on the issue. Otherwise, the message can potentially come off as hypocritical. Consequently, this could cause you to be viewed as an opportunist out to profit from the circumstance.
Brand Activism- Progressive vs. Regressive
We might imagine a structure that encourages a company to develop an activist strategy using the definition above as a starting point. It’s important to note that activism does not have to be progressive; it can even be regressive.
The tobacco industry which for too long ignored the damage their cigarettes caused to smokers, even though their own findings proved otherwise – became the poster child for regressive advocacy. They sold the “benefits” of smoking in a manner that affected customers.
On the progressive activism front, we’re seeing an increasing number of businesses attempting to make a difference in the world’s most pressing issues. These businesses have a greater function than just making a profit, and they are increasingly regarded as industry leaders.
Types of Brand Activism
There are six types of categories that fall under brand activism:
Social activism- Equality in gender, race, age and so on are examples of social activism. It also covers social and cultural concerns including school funding, education and more.
Legal activism- It is concerned with business-related laws and regulations such as taxes, workforce, and labour laws.
Business activism- Corporate policy, CEO salaries, workplace benefits, labour, and industrial negotiations, governance, and so on.
Economic activism- Minimum wage and tax policies that concern income inequality and asset transfer are manifestations of economic activism.
Political activism- Lobbying, campaigning, voting rights, and policy are also examples of political advocacy.
Environmental activism- Conservation, environmental, land-use, air, and water pollution regulations and practices are all tackled by environmental activism.
Why Brand Activism Matters
Being industry leaders, businesses should know their influence and how taking a stance and taking action will have a big impact on the world. Aside from this, living in a corporate and commerce-driven world has not diminished people’s need to find purpose in their lives. The new state of the planet has brought this home to consumers ever further.
In today’s increasingly contested and political climate, consumers are becoming more vocal in their views about what is happening in the world. Furthermore, their purchasing habits are transforming into strong commitments to equality, sustainability and unity, rather than just purchases.
Customers are inviting brands to make those changes by demanding reform by their consumer choices. People are unlikely to want to give up the ease or comfort of their shopping routines, but brands must adapt as well.
What Happens If You Don’t Take a Stance?
Knowing how devastating it can be for a business to make a public declaration of support or disapproval on a topic, it’s tempting to assume that remaining neutral is the safest choice. However, this isn’t always the case.
The #DeleteUber initiative, which prompted over 200,000 users to delete the Uber app after the organisation continued to run its service during the taxi strike in protest of former President Donald Trump’s Muslim ban in the US, is an outstanding example of this.
When Uber portrayed itself as a courageous organization unafraid to voice its opinion, people were outraged that Uber CEO, Travis Kalanick did not outrightly oppose Trump’s immigration order. The order was particularly divisive for Uber because it involved a significant number of its drivers, and Kalanick sat on Trump’s business advisory board.
Although Uber’s position was muddled, and the company’s business suffered as a result, Lyft was lauded for resisting the order and contributing a million dollars to the ACLU. Lyft exceeded Uber in App Store sales for the first time that day, proving that taking a stance can have a positive effect on sales.
The world requires fundamental changes, especially in the business and commerce sectors. Consumers are becoming more mindful of the socioeconomic and environmental problems that the world faces. They are very concerned with them, and they want the brands they buy to be concerned as well.
Brand activism is more than a publicity ploy for a company; it necessitates planning and concrete outcomes. Social progress and customer recognition are now pushing brands to become reform agents. The time to act and become industry leaders that are actively changing the world is now!