In the world of social media today, it isn’t uncommon to see plenty of posts regarding anything related to politics. It’s one thing to do it on your personal social media accounts, but it’s a whole different story to do this as your brand. This article comes from Entrepreneur.
3 Considerations You Must Think Through Before Taking a Political Position as a Brand
As more and more customers vent their frustration with the increasing political divide by exercising the power of their pocketbooks, I expect that it will be harder and harder for brands to stay silent on their political positions. Here are three things you must consider before you step out and speak up.
1. Know what your ideal customer expects and don’t let them down.
You may think that your target market prefers that you steer clear of political topics, but do you really know? In a series of controlled experiments performed by Drexel University, researchers found that avoiding political activism can actually damage a brand if their consumers believe them to be a “values-oriented” company.
One extreme example is Patagonia. The company is chartered as a Benefit Corporation, so they can’t easily avoid taking public stands on political issues. As a company with near-cult status among outdoor sports enthusiasts and nature activists, taking a no-holds-barred position on recent decisions to reduce the size of national monuments is both in line with their charter and their brand. REI, another outdoor retail brand, has made some sweeping statements on the subject as well.
If your brand is either known for, or desires to be known for, making a difference in local or global communities, or if a policy directly impacts the people who are fans of your core product or service, you need to be seen and heard on the issue.
2. Craft a message that aligns with your brand.
Standing on the sidelines is a sure way to keep your brand out of the fray, but it’s also a sure way to miss out on the spotlight. No matter which side of the issue you’re on, making your position clear will anger some folks but you will also find that prospects who align with your message suddenly “discover” that you are their new favorite brand. That notoriety and the business it brings will be short-lived unless you are clear about why the issue matters to you and to your customers.
A good example is Penzey’s Spices. During the last election cycle founder and CEO Bill Penzey used the brand’s email list and Facebook page to spread a message of cultural inclusion and resistance to the politics of Donald Trump and other Republican politicians. The brand quickly became a household word. Calls to boycott the company have been prolific but sales have been ever more so. Penzey has followed a time-tested recipe that any brand would do well to emulate, regardless of their political stance. His communications are passionate and articulate, his position is clear and concise. More than that, he’s tied his message to his product by focusing on the worldwide cultures that his herbs and spices represent and the age-old tradition of sharing food as a way of healing communities.
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