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Brand Activism

Updated: Feb 9

Melissa from Vision Factory

Author: Melissa Sartini

Date of Publication: 27/04/2023

The world of business and marketing is increasingly engaged in social issues and acting as promoters of change.

More and more we hear about activism, or that tendency to spread ideals of ethics and morality. We talk about inequality, fundamental rights, inclusiveness, and the environment. This is happening on social media and communication campaigns.

Brand activism

What is it?

If a company engages in issues of social, environmental, political relevance through the massive use of campaigns, projects and initiatives then it is called brand activism. It consists of that set of actions that make pare of a brand's strategy with the goal of making a difference in some field.

In this case the company takes responsibility. It is an active and participatory role of the brand that goes far beyond profit. A series of relationships are created between multiple parties such as institutions, activists, other companies.

The definition given by P. Kotler and C. Sarkar related to this theme is as follows:

"Brand activism is the clear willingness on the part of the company to take responsibility in the social sphere and to participate in achieving the common good."

There are six main themes of brand activism: social, legal, business, economic, political and enviromental. The company strives to create value for both customers and society by turning its mission into action.

Progressive and regressive activism

When we talk about brand activism we refer to two currents: progressive and regressive.

Progressive activism are all those actions that induce improvement in the business situation and go beyond profit. While regressive activism are all those companies that hide the negative impact, whose benefits are not completely true about the products. The latter leads to "brand shaming," that is, it declines the reputation and value of the brand. Because it creates a clash between customers' ethical and moral values and the company's actions. The progressive current, on the other hand, leads to "brand evangelism," where the brand is associated in a positive way with the problem it is trying to solve.

What are the effects this phenomenon produces? Brand activism produces consequences in the business sphere. Customers of a company committed to social issues will adhere to the values it promotes. They will not just buy the product or service. The customer will buy a product because he or she believes in the same values as the company.

Examples of brand activism

As examples of excellence in brand activism we can cite Nike and Patagonia. Nike's brand value "Just do it" brings out issues related mainly to ethnic and gender discrimination. Through its campaigns it foregrounds the individual and his uniqueness but also his belonging to a group.

Brand activism - Nike, Airbnb, Starbucks

Patagonia, on the other hand, addresses more environmental sustainability. The goal is to put the reality related to environmental tragedies in front of its community. This will create a bond that makes supporters feel part of the company. The winning move was to create an online Patagonia Action Works platform. Eco-sustainable initiatives are promoted that everyone can participate in regardless of where they are geographically located.


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