As business decisions are broadcast and spread rapidly through the internet, the news, social media and the stock market, things that once stayed out of the consumer’s eye are now front and center making every business decision a brand choice. Even choosing to not make a choice is a choice with the potential to be relayed to the world.
Some are approaching this with strategies that incorporate outward facing proclamations in advertisements. Nike has done a great job with this as seen in their support of Colin Kaepernick and his prominent feature in their 30th Anniversary ‘Just Do It’ campaign, as well as in their support of Serena Williams during and after her pregnancy.
It can also be done through quieter internal business decisions that express values that include equal pay, consideration of one’s carbon footprint, office layout for handicap accessibility, etc. Apple exemplified a version of this with the design of their new headquarters and its emphasis on sustainability and employee wellness. The park runs on 100% renewable energy and incorporates a 100,000 sq. ft. employee fitness center.
Alternatively, companies can also choose to flout the law, engage in “locker room” culture and hold growth and stockholder earnings as the only metric for success, disregarding employee and community well-being. But, as this goes against the cultural trajectory, this is not a long-term path for success. As we’ve seen with individuals and institutions taken down with tarnished reputations, there may be no recovery from perceived bad behavior. At best, the cost to rehabilitate the brand image and re-build trust with consumers will be exorbitant and prolonged.