There used to be a time when brand strategy in the face of social movements was to do nothing. No more. Recent protests and bursts of violence over racial inequality are forcing brands – per consumer expectations – to actually take a side. Under the harsh glare of the social justice spotlight, the margin of error for brands has vanished.

Brand strategy must be tailored to a environment where consumers expect not only more human brands, but those brands with a substantial popular culture presence to produce an outsized cultural impact.  

While the impetus for change can come from such groups as prospects, investors, and suppliers, the most strident call for action for brands likely comes from two key stakeholders – customers and employees.  

How brand responses in the aftermath of June 2020 protests for racial justice fall into three categories:

  • “signal intent (brands hear you, understand the gravity, and plan to act);”
  • “flex your muscles (brands withholding business and leveraging buying power);” and
  • “be the change (the most effective brands, like Microsoft, credibly committing to a course of action).” 

The five principles that can anchor the best brand response: honesty, involvement, sweating the details, building from values, and staying true to yourself. 

If you want to discuss the the brand responses to the racial justice movement in the summer of 2020 with one of our analysts, please reach out to