Want to create better branding while being socially conscious?
Here are four key takeaways from branding experts Kennita Hickman (Catera) and Ebony Ssali (Ssali Media Group) on how to capitalize on cultural moments (without dissing your demographic).
1: Don’t neglect the demographic that built you
Inclusion is everything, especially in today’s age. Too often, brands aren’t lending enough attention nor thought into audience perception, especially for people of color. In attempt to be “inclusive” and “diverse”, skincare and beauty brands will showcase their products on a range of skin colors, though fail to represent any dark-skinned people. By only showing or appealing to light-skinned people of color, brands fail this demographic. Even brands built on the loyalty of black women, for example, have failed to represent their audience in the past and apologized too late (thus failing the demographic that built their business). Representation equals a better brand experience for consumers, especially the ones who are most marginalized.
Extra tip: request feedback from different demographics and give those who are often neglected a seat at the table.
2: Think about how your competitors might spin your messages
It is no longer enough to think about how your audience may perceive your branding messages. It is essential to be one step ahead and think of how competitors might analyze the social impact of your advertising. Comments made in jest or in thoughtlessness can result in PR disaster, so make sure you are especially conscious of what you say, how you say it, and to whom. Otherwise, the demographic you are trying to reach could end up the demographic you offend the most.
3. Move quickly (but with strategy)
Today, our world moves quickly so we must keep up. With social media, we have access to the most recent events, and there is major opportunity in connecting our brand to what is socially relevant. Quick thinking and witty advertising can lead to earned media attention, so is it essential to think on our feet and come up with socially relevant messages that represent our brand. For startups and small businesses, stay up to date with local events and happenings that connect back to your brand mission.
4. Operate from your “why”
To develop a cohesive brand, we must operate from our purpose. It’s not enough to operate from a surface-level perspective; nowadays, brands must ask themselves what they stand for. To thrive in today’s environment, and differentiate themselves, brands should take unabashed stances and strive for social consciousness. It is equally important to stay cohesive in representing brand values, otherwise the consumer base will stop buying into the brand-literally and figuratively. It is essential to know what you value and build trust and awareness with the consumer.
Overall, strategy, timeliness, and inclusion construct social consciousness in branding. It is important that we stay in tune with our ever-changing social climate, and uplift those around us to create content that doesn’t neglect or offend our potential consumers and existing audience.