How to Navigate Today’s Divisive Culture, From a Women’s Health CEO
We recently talked with the CEO of a women’s health brand to understand the marketing challenges facing brands in today’s divisive and charged social environment.
It’s not an easy time to be a brand. Much has been said and written about the benefits to brands taking a stand on important issues. Consumers, especially those on the younger end who every company wants to attract, flock to brands that share their values.
But this can also come at a cost. Recently, big brands like Target and Bud Light have found themselves in controversy surrounding their support for LGBTQ+ causes. Both have been subject to a slew of backlash and boycotts. Whether or not those have had an effect is in the eye of the beholder, but it’s worth noting that Bud Light just recently fell from being the top-selling beer in the US.
But what do you do if you’re not only a company or brand that wants to tap into cultural and social issues, but if your existence sits right at the forefront? How does a brand navigate the fraught political environment if its product, service, or purpose stands in direct contrast to a loud and often incessant opposition force?
Aligning Mission and Values with Gender Equality and Reproductive Rights
According to the CEO, “Brands should communicate their mission and values visually and verbally, demonstrating that they are an inclusive brand that supports gender equality and reproductive rights.” They emphasize that showcasing inclusivity is vital to establishing credibility and attracting an audience that shares these values. By integrating visual and verbal elements into their communication, brands can effectively convey their commitment to creating a more equitable society.
Understanding the Risks and Challenges
Marketing a women’s health brand in today’s climate can present significant risks and challenges. But the CEO said that brands aren’t just bystanders. “Brands have the power to create change for a better, more inclusive world that supports gender equality and reproductive rights,” they said. “Brands need to decide what they stand for and responsibly wield the power they have to ensure people are not only treated fairly but help advance equality and rights.”
The Importance of Inclusivity
For most brands, and particularly women’s health brands, inclusivity is vital. The CEO states, “Starting with brand strategy and zooming down to marketing tactics, brands can create strategy, guidelines, and principles that assure the visual and verbal identity and messaging of the brand is inclusive.” This ensures that the brand’s identity and messaging align with its mission and values while also fostering a feeling of inclusivity—that nobody feels left out of the brand’s experience.
The CEO also suggests conducting periodic audits, both internally and externally, to ensure that the brand remains true to its inclusive framework. A semi-regular evaluation process ensures the brand doesn’t stray from its commitment and isn’t letting anyone or anything fall through the cracks. This ensures that brands and their marketing are effectively evolving to meet the expectations of the audience.
The Balancing Act of Promotion and Advocacy
Brands can sometimes get in trouble when they lose sight of what their strategy is, which can lead to superfluous marketing that exists just to check a box off. This insincerity can be incredibly damaging. Brands should speak up on issues that are important to their audience, but only if they can do so in a credible and authentic way.
“Some may lean into these issues more because it’s core to their target market and customer experience,” the CEO said, emphasizing that understanding the unique needs and preferences of their target audience is crucial because it allows brands to align their messaging and campaigns accordingly, ensuring they resonate with customers.
The CEO says that brands can also choose to partner with organizations or individuals to support education and advocacy efforts. By collaborating with trusted entities, brands can amplify their impact and foster meaningful change. Additionally, brands may identify specific times of the year to focus their efforts on a particular topic, creating concentrated campaigns that raise awareness and promote dialogue.
Marketing in an atmosphere of divisive politics and backlash isn’t something that can be avoided for many brands these days, but it poses a particularly significant challenge for certain companies like women’s health brands. However, it also presents opportunities for brands to make a meaningful impact and foster positive change.
By communicating their mission and values visually and verbally, demonstrating inclusivity, and responsibly wielding their power, brands can navigate these challenges successfully. With a clear understanding of their stance and a genuine commitment, brands can empower their target audience and build ever-important loyalty.