June is Pride Month, and it’s common for brands to change their logo colors and give out crazy discounts. From a primitive marketing point of view, these actions can be seen as activism, but are they?
Today, we’re talking about Brand Activism, the social voice of your brand, how to avoid common mistakes like ‘Pink Washing’, and how to support causes you believe in properly.
Brand activism is a business effort to promote social, political, economic, or environmental reforms. It’s a brand’s desire to change the world and use its platforms to connect with an audience with the same interests. According to studies by Cone Communications, 78% of customers expect brands to address social justice issues. But activism is not only about making statements and telling your audience what causes you support; it’s about building loyalty.
Customers want brands to advocate for the same beliefs that they hold. Either supporting LGBTQ+, BLM, eco-friendly policies, and more. But strategists and brands must look beyond self-interest and engage with these causes only if their values and beliefs are true to the brand.
Pink-washing” or “rainbow-washing” can be a catastrophic strategy if not applied with care. The problem occurs when brands limit themselves to changing their logo color and graphic identity to those of the cause they want to support during a specific time, without any meaning or real contribution of substance.
The public knows how to recognize companies that want to pose as allies. At that point, their false facade collapses because their intentions are not backed by genuinely shared values.
Using a minority group to profit without understanding their reality, concerns, or needs is unfair to social causes, and companies should not benefit from social struggles.
Alternatives To ‘Pink-Washing’: How Your Brand Can Get Involved
Believe in a cause: Consider your brand values and find a way to match them with today’s reality. Find an authentic route and create a strategy where honesty is your banner. Fundraising, free educational material, non-profit collaborations, and giving a voice to those most in need will always be viewed positively.
Embody your values: It’s impossible to tell someone you care about diversity or the ‘body positive’ movement, for example, if you present standardized beauty clichés in your ad campaigns. If your brand is truly committed, take this opportunity to develop creative efforts that live up to the cause.
Collaborate with NGOs: There are more paths beyond a sale that donates funds to foundations. Partner with nonprofit organizations and their marketing teams to brainstorm innovative ideas to maximize exposure for both brands while giving back to the community.
Social conscience is not negotiable, and brands committed to activism know that promoting a social cause is not a trend and never should be. To do brand activism holistically, your brand needs to understand the causes that matter most to your customers and be authentic in your actions. Skip the rainbow profile pictures and put your money where your mouth is.