Brand activism is not corporate social responsibility, is not cause-marketing, is not a sales tool, is not a marketing strategy.
It will often have a similar look and feel to some of these things. But it's so much greater than those things.
Brand activism is the effective and impactful use of your brand voice to advance your values and to be an advocate for real social, cultural, and political change in your community.
It is the agreement that will turn your marketing arm into a campaign organization, marketers into social activists.
It is a departure from selling stuff, an entrance into selling ideas.
The purpose of activist marketing is to lend viability to existing social movements, with the full force of your brand, so that these movements can create lasting impacts in the world. The benefit is that these causes are aligned with the core values of your brand.
The question isn't, should I engage in brand activism. The question is, how do I execute this.
Here's the best framework for engaging in brand activism, and how to execute a successful campaign. Similar to the 5Ps of marketing, there are 6Ps of brand activism.
Purpose: Your Core Values
Business Activism is not driven by the values of your customers or the issues they care about. It's driven by the values of you, your brand. It's the basic question that your business was founded on: Why does your company exist and what do you stand for?
Policy: Meaningful Change
Stand for impactful policy change that addresses the root cause of issues. Here's where we diverge from other marketers: Don't be afraid to pursue movements with unfinished writing. Not every social issue has a clear, concise policy solution...yet. Support that movement too.
If you only buy in to supporting direct policy changes rather than movements, then your support is conditional and optical. When you do that, you lose the game.
People: The Movement
Your employees must truly believe in and be connected ti the issues and the movement. This starts by building a company with an appropriate corporate culture. Without the right culture internally, you can't impact change externally.
This also means that you support the people in the movement. Remember that social issues aren't just abstract ideas. They are communities, families, and individuals. They are real life issues and real life stories.
Organizations have power and influence in their community. When they speak up, they alter the narrative around a particular issue. They draw the attention of policy-makers, the media, and consumers. Your activism, in and of itself, will incite change just by being present.
Make sure that you're using your resources to make change, not sell products.
What is branding if you're not telling stories. Use your brand voice for ongoing storytelling and creative content that brings your consumers into these movements. Help generate interest in the movement, use your power as a brand to engage consumers in the cause.
Pop Culture: Relevancy
Use the power of your brand to clarify the movement. Move past the media, the politicians, and the pundits. Speak directly to your consumers about the issue, build that connection, and create meaningful action in the community.
Major brands have employed this type of strategy for years, rather successfully. So, this isn't a new fangled idea. It's just one that more and more brands are finally warming up too.
Here's the last thing you need to know about brand activism: it's not a money making tool, though you will likely gain consumer support.
Brand activism is about connecting with causes and issues that matter to your brand, centering organizers and impacted communities, and working within an already created infrastructure to call for change.
Use your brand for good.