Last night I sat on a marketing and branding panel for the social network for businesses called,Townsquared. In the middle of the event, I asked the group to share what information they expected to see on a business’ social media platforms. The answers varied from specials the business is running to information on topics relevant to the business’ services and products. We had a good discussion and I think it was an enlightening exercise for other businesses to be a part of an impromptu focus group on what to post on social media.

One of the comments a woman made about what she expects to see. She said, “social issues and community-based issues.” My immediate response was “I would recommend keeping politics out of it.”

My answer didn’t sit right with me. Which brings me to the topic of this post, “How to incorporate social justice into your brand”.

The purpose of this post today, however, is to address one of the comments a woman made about what she expects to see. She said, “Social issues and community-based issues.”

My immediate response was “I would recommend keeping politics out of it.”

But something didn’t sit right with me about that answer.

I was coming from a place of, “it just opens the door for a heated discussion that may not be appropriate in your business’ setting.”

In the wake of #Orlando, #AltonSterling, #PhilandoCastile it is more clear than ever that we as a country need to make some serious changes in the way we treat one another and the way we come together to take a stand for what is not right..

One way that we as people can do that is to “vote with our dollars.” There are several organizations that are calling for mass action around socially divesting (not buying things from businesses that have views on topics that are in support of the degradation of human beings).

Conversely, it is important to know that a company is active in the conversation and showing their support for change. In that way, I wish to retract my statement to the young lady that brought up the social issues on a company’s Facebook page.

One of my specialties in working with people is to help them to clearly define their brand and “who it would be if it were a person.” A brand is the sum of every type of experience people have when they come in contact with your business- like a personality.

Once you have clearly defined what your brand personality is, it is your job to make it come across in everything you do. It helps you to decide how to market, what clients you take, what colors to use, and how to speak on social media.

Included in the “brand” is a company’s mission statement and core values. Unless your business is directly linked to a social movement of some kind, your political stance will most likely not come in a company’s mission statement, which is meant to speak to what the company does and why it does it.

Your political and social beliefs do come across in the company’s core values, however, which are what define what you value a company. These are statements that talk about what your company stands for and makes up the “soul” of your company.

Every company should spend time to have conversations with their team and to write some core values down. Once you have them, it is important to post them in a place where they are visible to their team and customers to see. Core values set a tone for the brand and can come across in many ways throughout your organization- some overtly and some subtly.

I will use my business, MeetGeraldine, as an example. Our core values are all around respect, diversity, and empowerment. Here are some of the wasy that our core values manifest themselves in our brand:

Respect:

  • We do a daily check in with our team. In this check in we are able to talk about personal or business stuff- whatever seems to be moving you in the moment. It also gives us the space to say if we are having a bad day and just need to be left alone for the day.
  • We take great care in using language that is respectful.
  • We allow everyone to have input in creating an office environment that works for everyone’s creativity and productivity.

Diversity:  

  • We celebrate our team members and all the knowledge and experience that is brought to the table from being Asian, Black, White, Latino, cisgender, transgender, straight, queer, and so on.
  • Each one of us have several passions and talents- painting, rapping, storytelling, fashionistas, and tech nerds.
  • We work with businesses in all industries and who also have a multitude of passions and talents.
  • We are committed to working with people and businesses who respect all of us for whom and what we are, and actively discontinue working with companies or professionals if and when a mismatch in values is discovered.

Empowerment:

  • We empower our clients by explaining how to use the marketing and branding tools we give to them
  • We offer opportunities for cross training so our team understands at least a little bit about each other’s jobs
  • We open the door for everyone to openly discuss topics related to politics and education around how to best treat others.

Making social and community topics explicit is a personal choice and you will know if it suites your business best or not. In the event you are a company that isn’t wanting to put everything out on social media, you have the ability to incorporate your social and political values into your brand through company policies and how you build your team.

Our dollars do have a lot of power- especially collectively. For your clients/customers to be able to see that you are a proud supporter of social justice movements such as #BlackLivesMatter allows them to further connect with your brand and to feel good about where they spend their money (or not, and if so – it will be an opportunity to educate and invite them to open their mind to something new. If in the end they just aren’t in support of your values – they probably are not your target audience anyway!!)

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