How to Protect Your Brand in a Critical Political Climate

What political party is your brand backing these days? Wait! Don’t answer that! Or do, at your own risk.

There is no disputing it, the election of President Trump has stirred some strong feelings among the American public, on both sides of the spectrum. Even though the climate has changed, you still need to promote your brand. Doing so can be easier said than done.

Since Trump took office, we have seen some of the hits and misses of brands taking a stance. With such a divided population, companies cannot please everyone, and those who try have received mixed results.

When the online hospitality service Airbnb ran a Super Bowl ad that openly opposed the immigration ban and even offered free housing to any affected by the ban, the company saw an uptick in social media growth of almost 8,000 followers. Although that success story would have many brands licking their lips, know that these results are not guaranteed and attempting to pick a side could cause more harm than good.

Not clearly understanding the conversation can also lead to irreparable repercussions like the backlash received from Pepsi’s recent ad featuring Kendall Jenner. The ad portrayed a Disney-like moment that minimized the real world chaos, and often dangerous, experience of protesting.

Elle Hearns, the executive director of the Marsha P. Johnson Institute and formerly an organizer for Black Lives Matter, told NYTimes the ad “plays down the sacrifices people have historically taken in utilizing protests.”

Although Pepsi removed the ads, activists continue to voice their frustration and suggest boycotting the brand.

 

So How do you Protect your Brand?

Some companies just want to do business, regardless of the climate. Some will stay out of politics altogether, and others might try to contribute equally on both sides.

If your brand feels so strongly about a particular issue that you absolutely must make your thoughts known, then do so cautiously. Start by developing an online reputation monitor (ORM) ahead of time and understand where your audience stands.

An ORM, such as Raydr, will allow you to gauge your audience’s sentiment and track mentions in real time.

Understand that consumers are keeping a closer eye on their favorite brands as they wait to hear which team their favorite brands land on, so run a tight ship. Establish a crisis management plan for negative pushback.

Remind your employees of your core values to lower the risk of any rogue employees sending out that one detrimental tweet.

There will be a time when your brand will have to decide if it is better to pick a side or stay neutral. Just know that this is not a decision to be taken lightly.

Regardless of the climate, you don’t have to go it alone. The Factory Interactive has had experience working with brands big and small, and we can be your coach in this new political world.

Contact us to learn more about developing a digital strategy for your brand.