Only 19% of marketing leaders believe their company’s actions and words are fully aligned with their brand values, according to the Gartner Brand Survey 2019. This disconnect creates a challenge in today’s context of growing brand-driven advocacy.
Brands are taking a stand. In advance of an October 7th U.S. Supreme Court hearing on LGBTQ employment discrimination, for example, 200 brands wrote to ask the justices to award legal protection to LGBTQ people under the 1964 Equal Rights Act. Employers as diverse as Amazon, JP Morgan Chase, and Marriott vocalized how they think people should be treated in the workplace. It was a declaration of values inseparable from the brands themselves.
Such public stances are becoming more common. Brands use them to create a public image that reaches beyond product or industry to build values-based connections with customers. This is taking place across the social spectrum. For instance, the arts and crafts retailer Hobby Lobby states that it operates according to Biblical principles.
Whatever the position, brands may not have a choice but to clearly vocalize it. Four in ten Americans have researched a brand’s position on diversity and inclusion before making a purchase, according to Gartner Iconoculture, and one-fourth of them decided not to buy based on what they learned.
Aligning brands with values requires the entire company to behave in ways that are consistent with the brand position. Even a small disconnect can alienate customers. Marketers can do their part by ensuring the values associated with the brand reflect the values and culture of the organization. Leverage the ones that do in marketing, but keep in constant contact with customers to regularly to check the social pulse of the issues they care about.