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The Good and the Bad in Making Your Business Advocate for a Cause

“All advocacy is, at its core, an exercise in empathy.” – Samantha Powers, former United States Ambassador to the United Nations.

Our business exists not just because we want to gain profit but also because in one way or another, we like to share a part of us to the people. It is a form of self-expression and at its core, is the desire to help and support those around us.

We would like to re-echo that to our customers. We collaborate with non-profit organizations or we start the campaign ourselves. Through this, we are making our business socially responsible.

This integration of social responsibility to our brand has its pros and cons. So, let us take a look at the good stuff first…

  1. Improve brand perception
    Our customers want brands to stand up for something, and by making our business aligned to a greater cause, we are gaining a good impression from them. This would be our way of letting them know that our company does not only talks, but acts.
  2. Gain customer loyalty
    When our customers relate to what we stand for, we establish an authentic connection with them. Through this, we are gaining their loyalty and in the long run, they would stay because they continue to identify themselves with us.
  3. Engaging with the community
    Our advocacies are not only for building connections with our customers but most importantly, we are engaging with the community that we are helping. The purpose of making our brand advocate for something is not because we want to gain from it, but because we want to use our reach to help those that need it.

Being a business that wants something for the greater good does not always end up great. Advocating for something gains a watchful eye from the public, especially when it is your brand’s first time to do it.

  1. Expect criticisms
    Our customers are active consumers, they don’t just buy out of habit, but they buy with a purpose. And when they see a loophole in what we stand for, that might cause a bad perception about our brand. An example would be what happened with KFC’s Buckets for the Cure, where KFC would donate $.50 for every bucket of chicken sold to a breast cancer research foundation. Although the campaign ended up making $4.2 million in donations, it is said to have failed because the link between a fast-food chain and a health-related company does not really add up.
  2. Unintended consequences
    Products for a cause not only gain revenue for the advocacy but it also exposes what the problem truly is. With this, more customers sympathize and come in, hence, more demand, especially for large brands that do it. However, brands often overlook how their products are made, while they are ethical at face-value, ironically, the manufacturing is often not. This creates a conflict because a brand is supposedly for the greater good but the people making the products may suffer from bad working conditions, as well as the environments where the product gets its raw materials from.

When we make our brand advocate for something, we are sending a message to a whole larger audience. This message does only resonate of what our brand is, but it also echoes our role as part of the community. With this, if we are thinking to rally for a cause, we must do a lot of research about it, because what we do would affect communities more than us.