When I talk to brand managers and other social media strategists, the #1 reason they give for not wanting their brand to take a stand on issues is that they’re afraid of doing the wrong thing and being on the wrong end of a backlash. I’m not going to lie. This is a valid concern. We see it happen time and time again where “well meaning” brands dip their toe into an issue and it backfires. It happens. But I still counter that having your brand have a discernible set of core values that it stands behind is far more beneficial than risky.
Dove is one of those brands. They’ve made it very clear over the last decade that they stand behind all women embracing their real beauty. They’ve launched campaign after campaign. They’ve started the Dove Self-Esteem Project with the mission to ensure that the next generation grows up enjoying a positive relationship with the way they look. Most recently, they’ve partnered with Shonda Rhimes to start Real Beauty Productions, a new collaborative studio that will create stories based on real women’s lives and experiences.
Dove is absolutely walking their talk.
And so, when the UK arm of the brand released a line of Dove Body Wash bottles that were designed to resemble the many shapes of a woman’s body (a short & curvy one! a tall & slender one!), it was a little weird. It seemed like they had gone a step too far and were looking for cheap, surface wins rather than the deep, engaging ones they had been known for. It was a misfire. But you know what, that’s ok. Since Dove had committed to doing the work for women and young girls and has continuously shown their dedication, it was not so terrible for them to shoot and miss on one campaign. Also, since they’ve put countless hours and dollars into researching these issues and have hired teams of women who understand these concerns, their misstep wasn’t insulting and hurtful.
When you’ve clarified what it is your brand stands for. Go deep into it. Research the issue, hire people who understand it and who have lived it. Start small and continue conveying why it’s important to you and your brand. Then one day when you make a small mistake, your community will be there for you and it’ll just be a small blip on an otherwise amazing brand story.