Is every day Valentine’s Day for a brand? Coming out of Valentine’s last week, it got me thinking… how tough it is to be a brand these days, with the relentless struggle to connect with and be loved by your public. Social Media has taken what used to be a one-way dialogue (with the brand who shouted the loudest often coming out on top) and humanized brands, turning them into socially connected beasts. Beasts to be tamed. Beasts that morph to the wants of the consumer. Beasts that no longer simply serve up products and services, but who also need a social voice, an articulated moral compass, and a robust set of brand values to boot.
Yet this brave new world is an unforgiving place, with countless landmines for brands to navigate. Last week, I talked about using the Super Bowl as a Soapbox – where brands were doing much more than simply peddling their wares… they were instead, making bold statements that aligned with their values and beliefs (or in some cases, the values and beliefs they would like us to believe they hold dear). But even with the best of intentions (and solid engagement strategies), it isn’t always easy to predict the mind of the consumer or what unforeseen impacts lurk out in the wilds.
The globally adored Uber brand, for example, has recently encountered significant backlash, with Silicon Valley scion Travis Kalanick recusing himself from President Trump’s economic advisory council after #DeleteUber hit the social world in protest to Uber continuing with airport pickups while Trump’s controversial immigration ban was still in play (some 200,000 people actually deleted the Uber app.) Nordstrom found themselves in a tweet-storm with The Donald when they dropped his daughter Ivanka’s brand from their stores, fueled by a retail brand movement spawning social campaigns and hashtags like #GrabYourWallet and #BoycottIvanka, with many similar retailers caught in the maelstrom. Disney made the choice to drop one of the world’s top YouTubers – Felix Kjellberg aka PewDiePie (with 53 million subscribers) – post considerable social backlash from the Wall Street Journal’s report detailing that he had posted anti-Semitic content. Remember, Disney zealously defends its brand, also passing on Twitter last year, as it was concerned with trolls on the social network. And sports brand Under Armour found themselves not only in the social crosshairs, but also that of their key celebrities and top endorsers (Hollywood WWE star The Rock, NBA MVP Steph Curry, and prima ballerina Misty Copeland) who spoke out via social media when CEO Kevin Plank called President Trump “a real asset for the country”. The company has since released a statement distancing themselves from Trump’s politics.
Why does it matter? Our socially connected expectations of beloved brands is that they shouldn’t simply break out the chocolates and red roses only one day of the year, but all year long. Consumers want to feel the love, having brands engage with them personally and authentically – we want to know that brands reflect and adhere to our core values and stand for the things we care about. This is a tall order for brands indeed. And, like any long-term relationship, brands need to consistently earn the love, trust, and respect of their loyal followers – who, when wooed properly, become staunch advocates and lifelong ambassadors.
Michael Chase, CMO
St. Joseph Communications
#MondayMorningMashup > http://stjoseph.com/brands-showing-the-love/