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Don’t Be Quiet; Take a Stand
By: Janet Kalandranis
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Many brands, actually most brands, don’t put themselves in the midst of controversy. They try to stay right on the line between two sides and not get involved. It’s the safest place. And many people think that’s where brands should be; they are there to sell products and services but not much more. That is, of course, unless you do it correctly. Then there’s the ability to take a stand and really create a human brand.

Starbucks never ceases to amaze. It’s always there, always relevant, and can move faster than most brands. Oh, and it has a personality. One that is emotional, one that feels, and one that gets involved. Last week, Starbucks locations in the D.C. area took a stance. The brand spoke for the public and let the government (yes, the big bad wolf) know that it was annoyed and aggravated. All infamous Starbucks cups in these locations were topped off with the written words “Come Together.” Starbucks was hoping to get involved and not be that bystander brand. Instead, the brand wanted to send a message and encourage public officials to reach a deal on that looming fiscal cliff.

Starbucks saw an opportunity and quickly moved into action. The brand didn’t spend three months in a boardroom figuring out the details but instead went with the brand’s emotion and personality and spoke out; it was a representative for its customers and also stating the brand’s personal feelings. Starbucks was able to use its scale for a good cause and ultimately get involved. Yes, it was risky; yes, it was controversial; but in the end the brand knew it was doing the right thing. Now that’s smart.

It’s not always smart for a brand to be at the forefront of specific issues — religion, government, etc. But sometimes it’s important for brands to test the waters, understand the boundaries, and truly create a living, breathing brand with emotions. One that speaks out and represents its customers. Then all is good.

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About the Author
Janet Kalandranis is here to give you all the little brand thoughts that run through her head with a little dash of spice. Find her online here.
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