The rising trend of brand activism: Why making your values known is great for business. No matter what you’re trying to create – whether it’s a presentation, pitch, marketing and training materials, or an explainer video (the list could go on) – authenticity and personality will be your best friend when it comes to producing compelling and persuasive content.
That’s why more and more businesses are happily laying all their cards on the table by sharing their stories and weaving company values into just about every part of their marketing and communications strategy. When this trend makes its way into the public arena, people call it “brand activism”.
What is brand activism?
So, let’s get the basics straight; what does it mean for businesses to live their values, how did it come about, and what does it look like? Well – it’s really the next evolutionary step in the world of corporate social responsibility. Brand activism, in the extreme, is an attempt by organisations to drive change in society while engaging their markets and employees on a deeper level. Largely thanks to the upsurge in social media platforms over recent years, businesses and brands have been given a whole new way to connect with people through the power of content. But it’s called “social media” for a reason. These platforms are places where people come together to openly share, discuss, and debate social and ethical issues (among a few other things, of course), which means brands must find their own voices and make them heard to get in on the action.
Here’s how it works
Uber rival, Lyft, has given us a great example of how “brand activism” can work extremely well as part of a business’ marketing and communication strategy. A few months ago, Lyft CEO Logan Green announced a US$1m donation to the American Civil Liberties Union via Twitter – right in the wake of Donald Trump’s immigration ban. Within days, Lyft’s downloads in the US surpassed Uber’s for the first time. Even closer to home, we’ve seen Tesla CEO Elon Musk vowing to resolve South Australia’s energy crisis while Qantas and a host of other huge organisations have been declaring their support for same-sex marriage through various types of content. Even though we might not always recognise it when we see it, brand activism is all around us – and it works!
Get your story straight
But consistency is key. For example, brands can’t say one thing on social media and another elsewhere. Values must be reflected across all types of content and shine through in every story the company tells – otherwise, things can go horribly wrong! Let’s cast our minds back the plight of Coopers Brewery earlier this year. While their beer was being featured in a Bible Society video debate over marriage equality, Coopers hadn’t yet worked out the brand’s actual stance on the issue. Needless to say, their huge target market of pale ale loving millennials wasn’t impressed and pubs across the country were soon ditching the beer from their bars.
There are many benefits
So, what are the benefits of brand activism (in all its extremes), or, as I described above, laying all your cards on the table by sharing stories that make company values loud and clear? Historically, organisations have steered clear of contributing to political debate or commenting on social or ethical issues through fear of isolating part of their market. But this has become regarded as a very simplistic approach. In fact, every business has a target demographic. Whether characterised by age, income, gender, or anything else, interests across demographics are usually shared which opens opportunity to engage with potential clients and customers on a more profound level. Today, it’s not just about the quality of a product or service – it’s also about brands becoming an active, mindful entity their markets can identify with. This is because authenticity and personality has the power to persuade and attract. Did you know 95 per cent of 18-35-year-olds are likely to follow a brand on social media?
And there are other great benefits too aside from increasing sales, loyalty, and setting yourself apart from the competition. Making company values clear through things like consumer content, job ads, training materials, and presentations, goes a long way towards shaping the company culture which, in turn, attracts the right talent and attitudes to drive growth and success.
So, don’t be afraid to take values and personality beyond the walls of your business; cement them into the fabric of the business with authentic, engaging content that resonates with and truly persuades your audience.
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