Should Brands have an Opinion?

We’ve seen it a lot in recent news—brands making bold statements, placing themselves in political crossfire and facing potential backlash from customers, communities and governments. Watching everything unfold recently may have you asking: Should brands have an opinion? The answer is yes, if done correctly. Knowing who you are as a brand and sticking to it — even if it means facing harsh criticism — can build trust, loyalty and enthusiastic brand advocates. But that’s not why companies do it; leaders adhere to corporate values because it’s the right thing to do.Delta Airlines is a recent example of brand advocacy at work. Delta executives know their brand identity and took a firm position on a controversial topic. With the emotional debate surrounding gun control, Delta chose to sever ties with the NRA and discontinue their discount program with the organization. This stance resulted in major backlash from Georgia lawmakers who then passed a bill to stop Delta from receiving tax breaks from the state. Even facing these tough economic repercussions, Ed Bastian, CEO of Delta, held firm. In a memo to employees, he said: “Our decision was not made for economic gain and our values are not for sale.” Being committed to your values as a company can help build relationships with customers and your community — which can ultimately impact your bottom line. Furthermore, it can foster discussion about the greater good. During this same time period, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams founder, Jeni Britton-Bauer posted on  Instagram urging FedEx to drop their NRA discount or face losing Jeni’s as a preferred shipping partner.You don’t have to respond to a national political issue to engage in brand advocacy. For example, Lacoste recently announced they will temporarily replace their traditional crocodile logo with 10 different endangered species to raise awareness and funding for these animals. It’s examples of cause marketing like this that does good for the world while increasing brand sentiment. Fair warning: to do this right, your company must be in it for the right reasons and align your brand’s values with similar causes. Customers will know if the motivation for your actions are self-serving.How do you know if your brand is ready to make a bold opinion statement like Delta, Jeni’s or Lacoste? Having clearly defined core values and making sure every action your company takes is aligned with your brand identity is the first step to being ready. After that, it’s your choice to take a step towards making the world a better place. If you’re looking for advice about how to position yourself in a competitive market, you’re in the right place. If you’re in need of help, please reach out—we love helping brands align themselves with their higher purpose.