Some statements have been better than others.
Many, while ostensibly well-meaning, are nondescript to the point of being interchangeable. These statements can run the risk of sounding insincere, tone-deaf or cavalier at time when consumers are expecting more leadership and cause advocacy from brands, not less. Especially after the onset of the COVID-19 crisis, consumers have rapidly increasing expectations for brands to not only provide a quality product or service but to convey empathy and do their part to make the world a safer, healthier, more just place. Those who can put their money where their mouth is, who provide tangible value for communities, will foster incredible trust with their audiences.
But there are brands getting it right. Here’s one of the best statements we’ve seen, what makes it so effective and what lessons brands should heed from it.
An impassioned call from Ben & Jerry’s
As one of America’s favorite ice cream makers, you may not have expected this impassioned declaration when it was posted last week. But Ben & Jerry’s has a track record of supporting issues of equality, including their vocal support of the Black Lives Matter movement in 2016. It’s no surprise they issued a statement, but this one exceeded our expectations on many fronts.
What makes this statement so effective?
- It expresses an impassioned, uncompromising message of solidarity. Too many brands overly-calibrate messages about social issues, leaving them vapid to the point of feeling inauthentic. The Ben & Jerry’s statement far from your typical corporate speak. The language selected expresses sorrow and outrage, along with their fervent desire for reform. It doesn’t shy away from the calling out the disturbing facts of racial injustice. Instead, it lays them bare.
- It’s more than their sentiments — it calls for specific action and advocacy. There’s a difference between empathizing and call for action and change. Increasingly, consumers expect both. This statement provides clear, actionable next steps for their audiences to take in the fight for justice and equality. The brand wisely recognizes that, especially on this issue, solidarity without follow-through is empty. Consumers will be even more highly attuned to that going forward.
- It authentically aligns with their brand values and their history of support for equity. This is a brand taking a resolute stance. Doing so, picking sides, is easier said than done for companies, as it can embroil them in controversy. But by aligning themselves so strongly with an issue they care about, that they believe in is core to their brand values, Ben & Jerry’s firmly establishes their brand as a leader and one consumers can count on to live their values.
It’s early, but watch — Ben & Jerry’s will see a significant brand lift from this statement and their advocacy to come. Will it alienate a part of their consumer base? Probably. But the affinity they will build with other groups will be a net positive.
Your commitment is only as useful as how it can be demonstrated. So, before you craft a message of solidarity for BLM, gender parity, the climate crisis or other issues, be sure you have something meaningful and authentic to say that you’re willing to back up with action.