Right now, it is not business as usual. There’s no “going back to normal.” Charged conversations and changing times call for meaningful, intentional action on the part of large and small brands alike.
How do well-meaning brands communicate where you stand and show your support of your audience at this time?
Jennifer “Jen” Kem is a Brand Futurist, Business Strategist and Leadership Mentor to women-founded companies and her entire mission is to help them get seen, heard and paid more, based on their values. Her brand and personal values are founded on Autonomy, Justice, Generosity, Leadership and Legacy, and as a 2nd generation Filipino-American, she speaks out often about racial injustice and gender inequality.
Jen shares 5 ways brands can take meaningful action right now.
1. For Your Community: Listen – Don’t defend.
“Instead of muting them or saying ‘that’s not true,’ say honestly that you’re not fully equipped to respond. Say you’re listening and from that place of listening, you are committed to fixing it,” advises Kem.
Now is the time to listen to those that are hurting.
2. For Your Audience: Educate.
“Pass the torch to those qualified to answer. Bring educators, consultants, and coaches who are experts in Diversity, Equality, and Inclusion (DEI) into your business and hire them to help you assess and audit your stance and policies internally and externally,” says Kem. “Make it part of your company, not something “extra” or “on top of” the everyday work of your company. Communicate your stance with impunity in your communication with your audience.”
3. For Your Messaging: Bridge.
“One part of branding is managing optics, and going forward (not just during this time), it’s important to communicate with authentic and honest optics. Stay true to your brand voice but acknowledge that you want to address where you stand,” notes Kem.
Bridge the gap of where your brand is now, where you stand and where you are going.
4. For Your Values: Re-Assess.
“Center your brand around values-driven metrics, not purely results-driven. Ask yourself – how can we get to the result and understand through the lens of our core values? Your clients don’t have to align perfectly with your values, but they should resonate with at least 1 or 2. If you’re not making People and Inclusion an authentic value in your brand even if you “feel” that you are, you’re not a values-driven brand,” says Kem.
It might be time to take a hard look at the values of your company to see if you truly are aligned with them or if there is need for adjustment.
5. For You: Your Brand Is A Reflection Of You.
“This is the world of business now. For me, I’ve been choosy in who I has help and amplify. Create REALationships with your audience and understand why they come to you for your expertise. Your audience trusts you, and that’s a currency you should not take lightly. Be sure to check on your partnerships and affiliates to see where they stand and if it aligns with your values,” explains Kem.
If you feel stuck on what to do or how to help, start with your values and your brand will follow.