Branding diversity is not a new idea, but it takes guts to do it nowadays.
For years brands have proudly championed values of multiculturalism and equality, and tried to make such beliefs central to what they represent. But recent developments in politics, coupled with growing resentment towards multi-national corporations and their visions of a globalised world are now testing brands’ willingness to stand up to their beliefs.
We have recently seen two Sharing Economy giants, Uber and Airbnb, become part of debate on social media for their stance on the ‘Muslim-ban’ proposed by President Trump.
#DeleteUber trended on multiple social media platforms when Uber didn’t join NYC yellow cab drivers in a protest, and Lyft – a main competitor in the USA – became one of the most downloaded apps in the App store. Uber faced further criticism because its CEO was part of the president’s economic advisory board – he stepped down due to public pressure, just to end up facing criticism from Trump supporters for doing it.
Airbnb on the other hand, has been praised by how it handled the same issue; it engaged its global community of hosts to support everyone affected by the ban, and is now rolling out a larger campaign to continue to champion its belief in a world without barriers (#WeAccept), which included a 30-second Super Bowl spot.
Their goal is to offer short-term housing for 100,000 people in need in the next five years.
2017 is likely to put more brands in the same situation; some have already started to reassess their stance in socio-economic matters. But there is a vast array of articles and studies from which to learn about Millennial and Gen Z consumers’ preference for brands with strong values.
IBM has changed its logo in protest against anti-LGBT legislation in the United States
So it gets down to a matter of long-term versus short-term vision; should brands forget equity that has taken time, money and effort to build and act impulsively, or do they stand up to their beliefs and values and aim at building a legion of loyal fans from a next generation of consumers?
We stand with brands such as IBM and Airbnb.