Beyond Brand Activism: Making Change Part of Your Mission
No matter where you live and when you're alive, one constant in the human experience is the perpetual need for social and political change. Never satisfied with the status quo, people will keep pushing and to make this world a better place. The question companies now face is not so much whether they'll join in the struggle but how to do so effectively.
Basic Principles of Activism
Just as individuals do, corporations desiring to make a change in the world must first acquaint themselves with the basic principles of activism. Otherwise, they will quickly find themselves in over their heads.
Nobody accomplishes major changes alone, and effective activists always know precisely which role they're playing in the struggle:
- Citizens. Effective citizen activists have a very public role. Their job is to loudly holler "Yes!" and affirm any positive developments that they see.
- Rebels. Rebels also have a very public and vocal role; however, their job is to shout "No!" Whenever they see policies, principles, or actions that detract from society's shared values, they shine a spotlight on them to let everybody know.
- Change agents. Because not everyone is always on the same page at the same time, change agents will always be necessary. These activists organize, mobilize, and educate the general public regarding ongoing issues and developments.
- Reformers. Reformers work directly with political figures, judicial structures, and civil servants to solve problems through new laws and policies.
To ensure your company is in the best position to incorporate activism in your mission, first pinpoint precisely which role you plan to play. Only once you've done that can you decide how you want to play it.
Understanding a social movement's need to have all four roles played effectively can help reduce antagonism and promote cooperation among different groups of activists and organizations. (Commons Library)
Beyond Brand Activism
Much has been said in recent years of the value and effectiveness of brand activism. However, it's worth noting that while some companies have clearly made it work, real Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) must move beyond the surface level of simple brand activism and press forward with efforts to make real, lasting change.
According to the Harvard Business Review, the sociopolitical uprising in the wake of George Floyd's killing in the spring of 2020 clearly demonstrated that the "old playbook" which previously made CES programs successful may no longer work. Now more than ever, consumers are looking for more than mere corporate lip service.
Consumers and other stakeholders want companies that see social good as a necessity, not just a marketing strategy. (Harvard Business Review)
Ways to move beyond brand activism and make change part of your mission may include:
- Familiarizing yourself with the major issues facing society.
- Taking a stance on what's right, what's wrong, and how you're going to help.
- Making the connection between your product/service and the potential solutions.
- Seeing the success of your product/service not simply as an end in itself but as part of the greater goal of making the world a more just and equitable place.
These issues aren't always easy to work through; and they can be even more of a challenge to communicate to shareholders and consumers. Sometimes, the best choice you can make is to consult with knowledgeable professionals who can help guide you through the ever-shifting landscape.
That's where we come in.
We Can Help
Here at Deed, we're committed to leveraging our expertise to inspire global change. As one of the best CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) partners available today, we're here to help you make an impact. Together, we can change the world.
For more information, please feel free to contact us. We look forward to hearing from you!