Oli Foster / January 29th 2018

Should brands be political?

We have previously talked about how much brand values matter, but nowadays it’s not just a brand’s sense of charity that is being scrutinised. Companies and brands are increasingly being expected to react to political events and movements.

Politics and social issues are at the forefront of a lot of people’s lives, with so many issues polarising opinions. It is no longer the case that all brands can always remain impartial.

Yet, many brands are worried that coming down on one side of an issue, especially a controversial issue, will lead to them losing customers. Research has shown that more than half of consumers choose to buy or boycott brands based on their political stances. This is a sharp increase on past levels. Even more buyers abstain from a brand that stays silent on an issue those buyers think the brand should address.

These statistics alone should make it clear: politics are more important to brands than ever.

When brands take stands

The trend towards activism by brands has taken off more in the past few years, but there is stark variety in how far different brands go.

Take, for a very specific example, LGBTQ+ representation by food product brands. Some brands have only hinted at their support for the LGBTQ+ community, whereas others have gone to the lengths of sponsoring Pride events, releasing Pride products, and targeting campaigns and adverts specifically towards non-traditional families and LGBTQ+ consumers. Everything in between is also an option.

Skittles Pride Facebook post

Skittles’ no-rainbow product supports Pride amid backlash from some groups.

This type of activity represents several things about your brand.

Firstly, it shows modernity and progressiveness. At the surface level, it displays your brand’s support of evolving societal values. At a deeper level, it also positions your brand as evolving and prevents consumers from leaving you in the past.

Secondly, it proves that you are connected to the culture around you, and the issues that affect your customers. This generates loyalty from buyers.

Lastly, it emboldens your brand. People recognise that taking a stance on a political issue is a risk. Those who are sympathetic to the same stances you take will appreciate your support and acknowledging of your bravery.

This is not to mention the good that brands supporting certain issues can do for those issues on a larger scale.

So, clearly, politics pays off. As long as the stances you’re taking are genuine, rather than publicity ploys, they will convey your brand values to those people who value them most.

In a society where politics and consumerism are two crucial factors in daily life, why wouldn’t you connect them?