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Branding in uneasy times

Jun 18, 2020 • Aaron Goldman

Greetings from the city of broad shoulders. Hope this finds you well.

By now you’ve probably seen the compilation video showing how so many commercials these days all sound the same.

The impact of the pandemic may be felt universally but each of us reacts very personally.

Add in the pain of racial injustice and ongoing struggle for equality and uneasiness is an understatement.

There are no easy answers but, if nothing else, we’ve learned the old ways of doing things won’t work anymore.

We have to get uncomfortable.

That goes for branding too.

Two years ago we created a decision tree for brands deciding whether or not to address hot-button issues.

The premise was that it was too risky for brands who serve a wide swath of the population to weigh in.

But, if you had niche audiences and understood them well enough, then you should go for it.

It’s time to rip up that playbook. Brands no longer have the luxury of sitting on the sideline. These days, you’re expected to show your stance – silence speaks louder than words – and statements must be backed up with verifiable commitments and actions.

So here’s the updated version.

​​​​As Nike said in the ad that prompted our original decision tree: Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.

Taking a stand – or a knee as the case may be – is sound counsel for branding in good times and in bad.

But, again, this goes beyond putting out a message to backing up your position with actions. That’s what truly creates cultural change and will ultimately earn you brand loyalty.

For more discussion of brand responsibility and accountability, check out my recent conversations at the 4C Virtual Water Cooler with Jacinta Gandy and Christian West.

Virtual Water Cooler with Jacinta Gandy

Virtual Water Cooler with Christian West

And for a look at how brands can thrive by being agile or through converting TV ads to Social lift, dig into these articles by Karl Knights and Grace LeDuc.

Sports behind closed doors: Survival of the most agile

     McDonald’s and LEGO lead May TV Social Lift Rankings


Finally, in the spirit of taking our own medicine, 4C will be closed tomorrow to observe Juneteenth, a day that commemorates the end of slavery in America. Like last week, we’re making Friday a day of action and encouraging our employees to find a way to create change and just do it.