Brand Activism: The Rights and Wrongs

Brand Activism: The Rights and Wrongs
3 minutes read. June 26th, 2020.

Plus Points

There are a number of benefits that come with incorporating activism into branding. First and foremost, it strengthens the relationship between customer and brand. The 2017 Edelman brand study suggested that 65% of audiences will choose a brand based on their beliefs. Audiences are clearly happy to back brands that support causes they too believe in.

Being perceived as forward thinking and progressive is invaluable in modern marketing. Branding activism promotes credibility, trust and accountability – in an age in which brands are fighting to show the world that they possess all three, aligning with a good cause could drastically improve the image of an organisation.

Key Considerations

Before choosing what cause to invest in, there are several serious considerations to take into account. A range of questions must be asked, including:

  • Is supporting a good cause the right choice for the brand in the first place?
  • Do the brand’s values align closely with those of the chosen cause?
  • What is the appropriate type of activism for the brand – social, environmental, political or economic?
  • What are the needs and beliefs of the brand’s target audience, and do they align with the aspirations of both the brand and the chosen cause?

Of course, with brand activism comes a series of risks. Needless to say, brands will need to seriously consider their values and philosophies before pledging towards a cause, because if beliefs aren’t backed up with up with action, it’s easy to be accused of following trends for the sake of it. Which leads us neatly into one of the biggest potential pitfalls of brand activism: not being perceived as authentic.

Pepsi’s 2017 video campaign, featuring Kendall Jenner, was designed as an attempt to promote peace and understanding, yet was universally slammed by audiences and faced immediate backlash for trivialising protests and demonstrations. Campaigns that result in discussion are all well and good, but not when the discussion is unanimously critical – it serves as a warning to all that even the biggest brands can fail when they involve themselves in potentially sensitive subjects.

Creative Collaboration

A final point of note is that up-and-coming creatives are being encouraged to incorporate good causes into their work. Creative Conscience, a non-profit organisation which places emphasis on finding creative solutions to ethical issues, encourages young talent to find design-driven solutions to improve the world. There’s never been a better time than now for brands to work closely with the new generation of creatives in order to effect change.


In modern branding, it’s not enough to simply extol the basic virtues of your brand’s products or services. Brand expectation has risen, as has the need to change the world for the better. Brand activism offers a chance for companies to establish lifetime relationships with customers based on shared beliefs, all the while improving the way the world works. What better way to put additional purpose behind a brand?

Interested in creating for a good cause? Get in touch with us today.

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Brand Activism: The Rights and Wrongs

Paul Hough

Creative Director

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