Is Neutrality the Answer?

Authenticity and transparency are essential for creating a loyal brand-consumer relationship. Some may say this means taking public stances in social issues; that voicing an opinion is a gateway to becoming an “authentic” brand. Consumers are typically attracted to brands that align with their values and fit their needs. So why do many brands consistently remain neutral or quiet altogether when social issues are present?

According to a study last year, only 18% of brands say they are very likely to speak out on social issues, while more than half (55%) were unlikely to disseminate a point of view on social topics. Some argue that due to lack of credibility, in the event that the brand receives backlash they will not be able to stand firm on what they say. This could potentially damage the brand’s reputation and hinder the growth of a positive and trustworthy brand-consumer relationship. Abbie shared her thoughts when the study first came out.

As you likely heard, in the weeks preceding Pride Month this past June, Target, faced with criticism and employee threats, made the decision to move some of its Pride displays from the entrances of some its stores around the country and place them in the back. Target is a large corporation with an extensive consumer base.  Were they selling Pride merchandise in order to embrace the community and voice their support for LGBTQ+ individuals? What does say then when they removed the merchandise in response to backlash? Did this isolate the brand from the very same community it wanted to embrace? Will non-supporters of the LGBTQ+ community start shopping at Target?

Brand activism when done authentically and consistently is an important part of corporate communications. But you must be prepared to stand firm in your stance if you want your brand to have an opinion. Otherwise, the credibility of your brand may be at stake.

Does this mean maintaining neutrality is the answer?

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Written by
at Jul 20, 2023

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