It’s long been a perception that taking a stand as a brand will alienate current and potential customers. But the reality is that not doing so is what actually alienates people. We don’t need to look far for examples of that. In the days following President Trump’s executive order on immigration, we saw businesses that stood by quietly and did not take action. And we saw businesses that stepped out and took a stand—and won the loyalty of customers as a result.
A look at the ridesharing industry shows both sides of the debate. Lyft promptly released a statement against Trump’s immigration order and announced that it would donate $1 million to the ACLU over the next four years. On the Sunday following the order, Lyft saw more than double its average number of downloads for its app.
Contrast that with Uber’s reaction, which many considered too little, too late. When a protest was held at New York’s JFK airport on the Saturday night following the president’s executive order, the city’s taxi union held an impromptu strike between 6 and 7 p.m., picking up and dropping off no riders during that time. Uber seemingly took advantage of the situation by continuing to offer service. Along with that, the company made no public statement related to the immigration ban until Sunday, long after the hashtag #DeleteUber was making headway.
Other businesses also took public stances against the ban and, in many cases, put their money where their mouths were. Airbnb stood up for the rights of refugees by offering those who are stranded outside of the United States with temporary housing. Starbucks announced that it will hire 10,000 refugees worldwide. And Nike, Apple and Google were among the other businesses taking a stand against an order they do not believe in.
While you can find many current examples of businesses actively speaking out for their beliefs, it’s not necessarily just a recent trend. In 2014, Hobby Lobby went to court against the Affordable Care Act regulation that requires all types of contraceptives to be covered free of cost under insurance plans. By doing so, they clearly defined their viewpoint and let their target audience know what they stand for. Whether their customers agree with their stance or not, they definitely know where Hobby Lobby stands.
There are two important reasons that taking a stand impacts your brand in a positive way.
Taking a Stand Aligns With the Changing Wants of Consumers
Studies have found that modern generations make informed purchasing decisions and are more likely to support businesses that they believe in. In fact, millennials are changing the way we must do business.
Millennials want something different than typical consumerism—they’re searching for meaning. Having grown up with the Internet as an ever-present part of their lives, they often have strong beliefs about political and social issues, including immigration, gender inequality, climate change, and racial injustice.
They will seek out businesses and brands that provide services and products they need but that also align with their viewpoints. By being clear on what your brand stands for, you’ll meet this new audience where they are.
Taking a Stand Helps Sharpen and Define Your Brand
Along with aligning you with the needs and wants of the modern generation, taking a stand also helps you build your brand.
This applies to both your personal and your business brand. What do you believe in? What principles does your business stand for? What will you not do as a brand? What will you always do as a brand? These are the beliefs you stand on—and making them known helps broaden your footprint as a brand.
You may have one particular issue that means everything to you—maybe it’s equal pay for women, increased diversity in the workplace or using environmentally-friendly resources. You can and should share your principles on those issues.
But as recent events have shown us, it’s also increasingly important to take a stand when it comes to high-profile events and policies. Doing so can make a world of difference in many ways.
At Wylie & Co., we stand firmly in our beliefs. We’re committed to diversity and inclusion. Learn more about what we stand for.