After a year of social and political upheavals, marked by economic uncertainty, brands must put their raison d’être at the heart of their communication. Elettra Scrivo examines how major international brands are dealing with diversity, climate action and social change.
The global social, political and cultural landscape has changed dramatically in 2020, and not just because the world has been hit by a pandemic. There was a racial and political calculation that affected all industrial sectors and all businesses. Brands that approach these changes after education and with a genuine, genuine desire for change are the ones who will prioritize their purpose and improve their reputation in the process.
Gone are the days when brands could focus solely on profit without broader considerations. Where brands once tried to avoid getting involved in social justice issues, today they are expected to take a political stand and be responsible for their choices.
“There has been a dramatic shift in the way consumers relate to brands, which the events of 2020 have highlighted,” said Gemma Chaldecott, deputy managing director of reputation communications agency DeVries Global. “To be authentic, brands need a high level of self-awareness when it comes to the role they can meaningfully play. “
For many brands, this awareness means listening to their employees and audiences, learning about different social issues, and trying to solve them in the most authentic way possible. Many companies have found that using buzzwords like “inclusion” and “diversity” as part of their mission pays little more than hype and hinders real understanding of the real concerns.
For some brands, this recognition has resulted in a radical change in their identity. Following accusations of racial stereotypes and responding to the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, Uncle Ben, Quaker Oats and Aunt Jemima have all changed their logos and, in some cases, their brand names. Other companies, like Amazon, have imposed a one-year moratorium on the use of Rekognition, its facial recognition technology, by US police after criticizing prejudice against African Americans in many forces American police.
Others, however, did not stop to think about how they might learn from the changing context and improve their internal culture, but instead took the opportunity of the cultural movements and diversity of 2020 to make statements. radicals and empty promises. One example is sportswear giant Adidas, a brand which, although it has built its audience and client base largely through connections with black celebrities and embracing black culture, has become the epicenter. of the diversity earthquake in June.