“Brand Impact,” “Brand Democracy,” “Brand Activism” – whatever you call it, you should get in on it.
In recent years, it might have seemed like taking a stand on social or political issues could spell disaster for a company. And yet, more and more often, we are seeing brands and their leaders speaking out.
Why would a company risk losing customers and profit if a stance could alienate significant portions of the country?
Stakeholders expect it.
As reported by eMarketer, two-thirds “want brands to take a stand on social and political issues.” With over half of the respondents stating that companies should take a stand on human rights and labor laws, combined responses for “yes, all brands should take a stand” and “only if it relates to products/services” were all above 64%.
According to Edelman’s 2017 report: The Rise of the Belief-Driven Buyer, 1 in 2 people are belief-driven buyers, meaning “they choose, switch, avoid, or boycott a brand based on its stand on societal issues.” In the 2018 survey, they found that 64% of respondents are belief-driven buyers. This stance is the majority across all ages, with the highest percentage among the 18-34 range. However, 35-54 and 55+ are steadily increasing at a faster rate.
Even internally, almost 57% of employees at Fortune 1000 “think corporations should play a more active role in addressing social issues,” as reported by Povaddo. 55% want the “company and/or CEO to be more vocal on important societal issues.” Employees want more outlets and resources to be engaged with political or social issues.
Why are brands expected to take stands?
The private sector has power.
Consumers are looking to corporations to lead the way. Per Edelman, 57% of respondents in the US believe “it is easier for people to get brands to address social problems than to get government to take action” and 53% believe “brands can do more to solve social ills than government.”
Likewise, according to GlobeScan and BSR’s State of Sustainable Business 2018 report, 71% of respondents believe that large global companies are “more effective than governments at advancing the sustainability agenda.”
What’s one way companies can take a stand?
The arts can make a difference.
Although the arts are not explicitly listed as an issue, they intersect with each category. As demonstrated in the Art + Social Impact explorer, the arts can play a significant role in all arenas. Through business partnerships with artists and arts organizations, we have seen the power of the arts in advancing human rights, the environment, gender equality, LGBTQIA+ rights, and more.
Here’s to hoping that an increase in expectation and effort from corporations to be mindful of and invested in social and political stances means an increase in engagement with the arts.