Politics has always been a controversial business, yet brands are willing to take political stances. Taking into consideration the fact that brands are not politicians and cannot lobby or make an advocacy group, they are mainly executing a political agenda on behalf of an “interested constituency.” Where this strategy is perfect in advancing a political cause, it might have an opposite effect for brands, as brands cannot win by using this strategy. In order to win more business, brands need to use a different strategy- they need to extend their consumer base. It is largely believed that a brand’s growth is dependent on consumer loyalty. However, loyalty is not enough for a brand to grow; brands must have a widespread appeal. Brands also need to unite different group of consumers with divergent values and preferences.
While it is smart and safe for brands to ignore politics and make most of it a secondary concern, they cannot be completely passive. Politics nowadays blends with lifestyle and can no longer be treated separately. That being said, brands need a new vocabulary for communicating with consumers. Most interestingly, brands are finding themselves as the advocates for enforcing civility and decency in public life. These various roles urge brands to answer every challenge with purpose, not with politics. Political brands will eventually get lost in the crowd of bitter divisiveness. Brands make a difference that matters when they take a stand as brands with purpose, not a political agenda.
The Global Strategy Group has been measuring Americans’ views on business and politics. The main question being asked was – How did Americans feel about politically involved companies? The results were balanced: Americans treated the brands as individuals and expected them to have their own political identities and beliefs. According to January 2017 results, 81% of Americans believed that corporations should take actions and address the society’s more salient issues. However, consumers were more supportive of companies that took a stance on issues directly affecting the company; such as the minimum wage, pay equality, industry-specific issues, and economics. Acceptance was the lowest on more diverging social issues, like abortion and marijuana legalization.
The results also indicated that Coca Cola and the Walt Disney Company tended to enjoy the highest ratings. Uber and Google also showed heavy political involvement, while their ecosystem was fairly young and progressive. Starbucks, however, had very contradicting results, as some consumers were supportive of its role for taking a stand against building the US/Mexico border, while some were outraged by it. However, it is evident that these companies have made the environment a core piece of their brand identity. So, it is no surprise to either customers or stakeholders when the leadership speaks out in support of environmental issues.
Brehse, T. (2017). Should Your Company Take A Political Stance? Retrieved from: http://blog.ignitespot.com/should-your-company-take-a-political-stance.
DeMers, J. (2017). Getting Political Can Cause Your Business Dearly If You Are Not Cautious. Retrieved from: https://www.forbes.com/sites/jaysondemers/2017/02/16/is-it-dangerous-for-your-brand-to-get-political/#647a78438611.
Smith, J., W. (2017). Why Taking A Political Stance Is The Biggest Mistake The Brand Can Make. Retrived from: https://www.ama.org/publications/MarketingNews/Pages/brands-shouldnt-be-policital.aspx.