Political stands can be make or brand for brands in the public marketplace. When you draw a line in the sand or take a position on any contentious issue, you can bet there will be repercussions. But will those consequences be positive or negative? Will they help you or hurt your brand? Well… that depends… and it’s not really the right question.
The most important question to ask — and you must answer it before you make a political or social statement — is will the response be worth it? In other words, will what this does for my brand be worth more than what this does to my brand? For some people, they are really committed to a specific idea or position, so they are going to act no matter what, but if you are concerned about the PR consequences of your brand’s potential social or political stand, here are a few things to keep in mind.
Does This Reflect Who You Are?
If you make this move, will it communicate to your audience more about who you are and what your brand is about? Asked another way: will this action make sense to your audience, or will they be surprised by your actions?
If the answer is the latter, then you may want to take some time defining your brand’s values to your audience gradually before you make any big, grandiose gestures. The idea here is to make decisions and take stands that reflect and enhance your brand, rather than overshadowing it.
Does This Action Reflect Well on Your Customer Base?
Another factor to consider is how your most dedicated customers will respond. Do they care about the issue you want to take action on? How do they feel about it? Will they respond positively, negatively, or neutrally to the action you are about to take?
This is important, because your core customer base can sustain you and help to mitigate the risk of taking a stand on a controversial issue or making a controversial statement about a current social issue. If your base doesn’t identify with your position or align with your statement, you risk alienating your fans as a result of communicating a message that matters to you.
Is Your Message Positive or Negative?
Understanding doesn’t begin with speaking, it begins with listening. And if you want people to understand why you are making the statement or taking the stand you are, you need to understand how your community is interacting with similar messages.
What are people saying about the message you want to send? Will you be adding to positive voices speaking out in a proactive way on an issue, or will you inadvertently add to a loud, largely negative narrative around an issue?
The key difference here is in perception. Will your brand be seen as connected to and defined by a positive movement to do something good, or will you be perceived as a negative voice attacking something? While there are certainly times to stand against something, it’s generally more powerful and productive when you stand for something.
Again, this difference is often all in the presentation of the narrative, as well as how you find yourself positioned on the issue. Be certain your position is, primarily, one of supporting something positive. If it’s not, re-adjust your narrative before kicking off your campaign.
Prepare for Feedback
No matter what stance you take on any issue, there will be feedback, both positive and negative. Especially on social media. You need to have a plan in place for how to respond to both positive and negative feedback, and you need to make sure everyone in your organization understands their role in how to respond. The idea here is to control the message and present a unified, positive, and productive response to every reaction.