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Consumers want to see that businesses care

How a business expresses its social values has never been more apparent than in the past week. After the supreme court in the US ruled in favour of marriage equality the world was awash with rainbows and hashtags that declared #lovewins.

Facebook joined the celebration by making it possible to add a rainbow filter over profile pictures, which not only asked us as individuals what we stood for but also asked brands and businesses to make their beliefs clear too.

“It’s an amazing thing that within 30 minutes of the decision, there’s this branded visual expression that you can make through social media” said Shoshana Winter, the Executive Planning Director for Digital Integration at advertising agency mcgarrybowen.

And she’s right – it really is amazing that at the click of a button you can tell the world what you as an individual, a brand or a business stand for.

And many, many businesses did:

Mashable instantly changed their logo:

Mashable rainbow flag logo

Someone at Visa got a promotion for coming up with this great line:

Visa rainbow flag

American Airlines tweeted a picture from on-board their plan, which showed the entertainment systems adorned with colourful rainbows:

American airlines rainbow flag

Even the NYC Mayor’s office:

NYC Mayors office rainbow flag

In a recent article published by WIRED, they asked the question how long are brands expected to show support and Allen Adamson, North American chairman of the brand consulting agency Landor had an interesting answer:

“Removing the rainbow too soon might seem insensitive to the long fight leading to this moment. But keeping it up without demonstrating more support for the cause could be construed as opportunistic. Once a company has jumped, as many have over the last few days, it needs to figure out if it’s up for a lengthy ride”.

“If they really believe in this cause,” Adamson says, “they’ve got to stay committed to it beyond its trending on Google Analytics.”

In other words, if you stand for this now then how will you stand for it on an ongoing basis?

Adamson is calling for businesses to be authentic and to think about what they stand for. In the recent Cone Communications/Ebiquity Global CSR Study it was revealed that:

“52% of consumers assume a company is not acting responsibly until they see or hear evidence to prove otherwise.

Meaning that half of your consumer audience will think the worst of your company unless you show them otherwise, which further demonstrates why companies should think carefully about their beliefs and how they communicate their belief sauthentically.

The old saying goes ‘If you stand for nothing, you’ll fall for anything’ – what we’re seeing these days is brands that stand for nothing, simply fall to the wayside.

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