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Brand Activism and Authentic Solidarity


In these polarizing times, many consumers are voting with their wallets, in favor of brands that are striving to make the world a better place. People are generally more willing to buy from—and invest in—companies that take a stand on social issues, whether by showing support for women’s rights, joining the rallying cry against racial injustice, or fighting climate change. Similarly, before investing in or supporting nonprofits and grantmakers, people want to ensure that their investment will make a meaningful difference and truly help those who need it. Studies consistently affirm that this trend, led by the millennial generation, represents a major shift in the way business is conducted and brand reputations are built.

To tread softly and stay silent about what is happening in the world is no longer considered an acceptable option for brands, as evidenced by the outpouring of support for the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement in 2020. Consumers will increasingly require businesses to use their economic power for the greater good. Therefore, the question for businesses today isn’t whether they should join the fight for change but how.

Of course, companies that speak out on social issues open themselves up to scrutiny; they can seem hypocritical if their actions don’t match their words. Here are some considerations for ensuring that they are embracing social issues authentically.

Joining a bandwagon is easy. A triggering event occurs, emotions run high, people become passionate about joining a cause, and public relations departments get to work to craft a message of support.

With respect to the BLM bandwagon, for instance, the bigger question is: What will you do to show that Black lives actually do matter to your company? Will you donate money? Will you find ways to develop more Black talent within your organization? How will you model your values in the community where your offices are located? Authentic leaders answer such questions automatically; followers simply get on the bandwagon and hope it will take them in the right direction. But consumers and the media can discern who is just along for the ride and who is actually creating solutions that will drive a movement forward.

Check the complete article originally published at Philanthropy News Digest.


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