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16, 2020

8 minutes of reading

Opinions are described Entrepreneur their contributors.

,, , Ben and Jerry, Twitter and Google: These are just a few basic ones who reacted to the news of the assassination of George Floyd by speaking out . Their actions range from the Nike “Eating Do It” announcement, to Ben and Jerry’s new taste “Justice Remixed,” to Walmart’s $ 100 million promise to create a racial capital center. But each is a reminder of the unique ability of brands to influence and reshape public opinion.

In my life’s work it has been to embody values ​​in something companies aimed at evoking the positive . While working in , Led the global day of hand washing with Unilever rescue soap . In the first year of 2008, more than 20 million children took part in it. Eventually it shifted the hygiene habits of millions of people around the world. The Lifebuoy team has just announced that it has now reached 1 billion people. Pepsodent toothpaste improves oral hygiene in Africa, and Knorr buller cubes fight anemia by encouraging mothers and girls to eat more green leafy vegetables along with iron-enriched cubes. I’m discussing all of this in my new book, Brands mission: how to achieve social impact and business growth in order.

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These successes make sense given that under natural incentives to force people to buy products brands have an inherent ability to change people’s views and habits. They have decades of experience that persuades consumers to do just that, as well as the tools, resources, and creative drive to change social norms and influence conversations. They can spread the message widely and widely, both among consumers and among their employees.

With such power and influence, brands simply do not accept silence, especially at a time when consumers want positive examples to fill the void left by governments.

However, there are parameters that brands must follow to clearly approach the right tone and position in a responsible, constructive manner.

Maintain the values ​​carefully so as not to cause intentional damage

Although factions of the public will always ignite in a particular message, trademarks are responsible for the choice of messages. Brands may choose messages that are perceived as contradictory, such as when Nike supported Colin Kaepernick to get on his knees and some customers protested against burning their Nike products. It is important to take a stand with honesty and good intentions. Like Nike he said at that time we should all “believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything”. “Weighed” Nike it is a brilliant example of messaging carefully and in good faith because it so closely matches its old, familiar and consistent slogan “Just so”.

Ben and Jerry can speak confidently and authoritatively about modern times in America because, since the civil rights movement began, its founders have supported work on racial equality on several fronts — education, housing inequality, income inequality, and the criminal justice system. Sending social messages through new tastes and their names is a thoughtful, natural extension of what Ben and Jerry look like to the brand.

Similar: How should you talk to staff about racism?

The market is bona fide and authentic

Responsible brands do not use social issues as opportunities to promote marketing and growth. The social goal is as follows: a social a goal that will pay off in the long run. The opportunity to take positions can benefit businesses, but it is irresponsible when they become the main motivation for social action. Actions, actions taken in the light of profits, will sound hollow and invalid, will repel customers and tarnish the reputation of the brand.

We’ve all discussed what big brands say that way. 2017 “Live for Now” company presenting how the Protestant model who joined the Black Lives Matter movement (eventually handing it over to Pepsi as a tactical descent) created a massive reaction as prospective consumers believe the brand is earning the pain of #BLM for profit, among other things. Pepsi immediately pulled out the ad, but literally a few days ago the image of the actual protester in the current riots went viral. He tried to hand over a police officer to Pepsi. People do not forget.

Similar: To understand the riots, consider the “Assessment” of black lives

Solve stereotypes with respectful words and images

By taking a position, brands are also capable of breaking down stereotypes. Doing so responsibly, constructively, means choosing words and images that reflect the reality of the different communities portrayed – be it around gender, race, body size, LGBTQI +, various able-bodied bodies and people with disabilities, both visible and invisible – while remaining respectful. . Showing images of people from racial and ethnic minorities in positions of power and guide one example.

Align messages (say “brand”) with your actions (“brand do”)

I strongly believe in the difference between the “talk about the brand” and “brand” terms, which were created in 2016 by Steve Mile and are widely used by Unilever and its agencies. The brand claims to inform consumers about social goals; The brand is a translation of this goal into the actual solution of social problems. Simply put, you need to play and talk take action.

Ben & Jerry’s has a stellar “brand” ethic. Equality messages are displayed on his board. For years, the company has also supported work among Native Americans – financially and through legal aid, protesting against the Dakota gas pipeline. He collaborated with the LGBT community: in 1989, long before a legal requirement was adopted, he extended health insurance benefits to partners of his LGBT staff. Shea Moisture is another example of a brand that successfully keeps its promises by supporting a small black business.

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Brands ’steps can take steps to overcome“ say ”with“ do ”, including actively recruiting and retaining a variety of talents, including at the board level; creating safe workplaces where employees can express themselves; and forming coalitions with nonprofits to promote joint missions. Coalitions with nonprofits and the public sector have become key to the success of initiatives such as Global Handwashing Day, Knorr’s drive to improve nutrition and Durex’s condom use normalization campaign.

Acceptance of moral values ​​means that you will adhere to them throughout your activities, including through the supply chain. You are hunting to hide one part of your activity by jumping on a van race: It defeats the goal. For example, I urge Walmart not only to defend racial inequality, but also to take a closer look at how guns – which sell stores – play a role in the deaths of many black people.


Creating change begins with teaching people questions. Companies and messages should strive for both current scenarios of positive change and inform the public of the reasons that are needed. CBS Sports not only stopped broadcasting for eight minutes and 46 seconds protested against the murder of George Floyd but also in partnership Color changes to ask viewers to demand a crackdown on “broken windows,” add legitimate civilian oversight commissions with full investigative force and, among other things, cut the police budget.

The development of a social mission has also become a business imperative. While quality was once the main differentiator between brands, today the adoption of a social goal has become a key way to place brands in a crowded market. Increasingly, brands that stand for the right things are more likely to emerge from the current crisis, and those who do not intend to take risks will be left behind.

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