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When brands need to shut up

Content is the perfect strategic element of your marketing strategy to show your beliefs and where your brand stands. But should you really be vocal about every stand it takes?

Content, in all shapes and forms, is a great way to create a meaningful connection with your audience.

When your content brings value and attribution can be brought back to a brand, this connection and its inherent value grow.

But there are ways that can make this equation lower and hurt the relationship between a person in your audience and your brand.

The first is if you waste your audience’s time. If your content does not bring meaningful value to, people will feel cheated, they will feel you wasted their time and they will not “tune in” the next time they come across a piece of content you produced.

The LAST thing you want someone to say after reading, listening to or watching what you produced is “Wow, that’s 2 minutes of my life I will never see again…!”

Another way you can alienate people in your audience is by taking a stance on a social issue where it either does not line up with their internal values or it is seen as being opportunistic for the brand.

This is something that is coming up more and more in branding discussions.

When should a brand be vocal and take a stance? When should brand activism be used? When should a brand produce content around a specific issue ou social implication?

A recent study that published some of its findings in Branding Magazine wanted to analyze many aspects of this brand activism dilemma. Quoting the article, here are the challenges they wanted to tackle with the study:

  • “Understand not only consumers’ expectations of brand activism but also marketers’ motivations to engage with this new approach, chiefly the strategic decision-making process behind brand activism.”
  • “Conclude if regularly engaging with controversial issues in an ideologically consistent way may strengthen the distinctiveness and coherence of a brand’s identity, which can enhance consumer-brand identification.”
  • “Understand the impact of consumers’ relationship with a brand in context to the kind of socio-political activism it does in India.”
  • “Understand if the negative effect of brand activism hurts the brand in the long run.”
  • “Understand the relation between online activism and its relations with offline collective action.”

The in-depth article by professor of branding and advertising Anirrban Ghosh sets the table and discusses the ins and outs of brand activism and how a brand should approach the tone, manner, voice and stance it takes.

In the content strategy field, giving a voice to causes and people would not necessarily have one can be a great way to not only make a difference, but also help your brand create stronger connections with its audience. But tread carefully and make sure you consider and analyze the potential consequences of a backlash or negative feedback from the community. Trust is built over time, but can be lost much quicker.