What can a brand do in today’s polarized society to minimize risk? What implications does this have for research tools? At The ARF’s 2018 CONSUMERxSCIENCE conference, brand guru Brad Jakeman provided answers to these tough questions, based on his career triumphs and challenges and his observations regarding what other brands have done right and wrong.
Overall, he makes these recommendations:
- Find a “credible space you can own.” Be sure your brand can contribute to the space and that it doesn’t look as though you are taking a stand because the topic is the “latest social trend.”
- Make sure the space is consistent with your brand’s and your company’s values. This requires brands to examine what their companies have said and done in the space. “How does it help those communities? How will it advance the solution to that particular issue? What investments has it made? Most importantly, has the company done anything inconsistent?”
- “Be clear on what issues society will let commercial brands stand up to … and those issues they won’t. Some issues are so emotional … any brand, no matter how good they are going to be in that space … will be seen as appallingly tone deaf.”
- “Assume you’re going to have an issue.” If something happens, don’t “hunker down, apologize, and say nothing.” Be prepared — with other people by your side — to “stand up and go … Have an action group that can say, ‘This company has a 20-year history with us, not just in giving money, but in participating in our community …. That this [instance] is a mistake … that doesn’t represent the values of the company.’”
- Employ research tools that can help to assess and predict today’s consumer behavior.