North Star Values in a Turbulent Social Environment

It’s a storm of social media controversy out there. Brands are being held to new consumer values. Consumers want to connect to the values of the brands they give their loyalty to. This new consumer demand requires much of us who protect and defend the brands we serve. We want our brands to grow. All brand growth involves risk, but we cannot be afraid of that risk. We never know the difference we can make until we head into the abyss.

There is an opportunity cost to avoiding controversy in marketing, too. The fear of repercussions from an off-color social post might cause many brands to retreat from the public eye altogether. And, who would blame them? But, this is a mistake equal in gravity to making the stupid post in the first place. That’s because the unforgiving and relentless tide of social media will banish these silent and fearful brands from social relevance.

The real opportunity will unfold through meaningful social engagement, but not through communication that is void of any critical content that might offend one group or another. We must not hesitate too long. You can’t win them all, but you can lose them all. In the attempt to avoid controversy, we should not go silent. The opportunity cost is too great. If you don’t like expressing your values, you will like irrelevance even less. We might lose half our customers by taking a stand on the wrong social platform, but we will most assuredly lose all of our consumers by taking no stand at all.

When we know who we are, we won’t sway from month to month. Conversely, when our brand shifts with every wind and every wave, we offend one group one month, and we offend our remaining advocates the next. Consistency in brand values is the North Star of brand management.

– Excerpt from: Surfing The Black Wave: Brand Leadership in a Digital Age