For business owners, taking a political stance can be more complicated. According to the CEO of Atlanta-based social impact firm Empowrd, “People’s emotions and passions and loyalties lie with people who take sides.” That theory is being tested in communities across the country.Politics, religion, and money are touchy topics many of us have learned to avoid discussing with family, friends, co-workers, and customers.
US elections have become more divisive because of the exposure social media provides. Businesses, both publicly and privately owned, are announcing support for movements and endorsing specific candidates. But should they? Is this good for business?
It starts with knowing your customer, who they are, and what they believe in. Consider Nike. The overall value of the company’s brand increased by $6 billion after the decision to feature Colin Kaepernick in a 2018 ad campaign. Nike knew it was leaving itself open to criticism. There was a lot of animosity toward the brand’s ad campaign, but Nike knew that those who opposed the campaign weren’t in its target audience. In the end, Nike “walked the talk”, and the brand and customers won.
Do you want to take a stand on an issue? Ask yourself:
- Whose stand is it? Who will be involved in the decision: just business owners, the leadership team, the employees? What about customers?
- If you take a stand, will sales drop? Will people lose their jobs?
- Do your business politics align with your target audience? If they do, it’s more likely you’ll see the positive results Nike did.
- Does your business walk the talk? If you’re going to publicly support an issue, you have to do more than giving it lip service. How does your business exemplify the position you want to make public?
Businesses support causes and candidates with publicity and money. How this impacts the bottom line may or may not be a consideration for you. It’s a fine line between standing up for things you believe in and alienating customers. You will ultimately make the decision. We hope these questions help you navigate what’s best for your values, your business, and your brand.
The road is easier together,