…says something about you/your brand.
The fonts you use, the colours, the way you answer the phone, the type of events you put on, who you associate with…all of these things say something, outwardly, about your brand – whether you like it or not.
People see/hear things and judge a brand based on that, and you can’t go around, one by one, trying to change their opinion.
A little while ago, I was working for a charity who had a key fundraising event coming up and needed a crowd-pulling speaker for said event.
Onto their radar drifted a prominent right-wing politician – very much in the news at the time.
This speaker had strong anti-immigration views and had courted controversy with many of his public statements.
Among the charity’s staff alone were many third, second, and first generation immigrants. The same was almost certainly true of the charity’s supporters.
The argument was made that we weren’t endorsing this politician’s views – he was merely speaking at our event.
If you give that person a platform to speak, when you could chose from so many others, you’re endorsing them/their views. Your brand is endorsing those views – and this says quite a bit about your brand, whether you like it or not. Once people go home and talk about the event, and the press releases go out, there’s nothing you can do to stop people forming their own views about your choice of speaker and what it means.
Fortunately, a battle among the trustees led to a decision not to hire this particular speaker and the brand remained untarnished.
Before this episode, I worked for a children’s charity. They wanted to organise their first big fundraiser. Again, they needed an engaging speaker – a big name – who would draw people in.
They too went for a politician – a Conservative politician who was very much in the news at that point.
The problem was, he was in the news for cutting child tax credits – plunging millions of families into poverty, with the children suffering.
This didn’t sit well with a charity promoting a better, safer childhood for children nationwide.
As a brand, we’d be saying that we’ll sell ourselves out to anyone, and we don’t have a strong belief in our core values.
In the end, this politician’s appearance was vetoed and a smaller, behind-closed-doors event was held – common sense won.
But have a think: your brand stands for something. It’s viewed in a certain way. It has certain morals and ethics. You can control what the public think of you, to an extent.
But if you do something which compromises the notion of your brand, or even goes against it, it can be hard to undo the damage and get your supporters/clients/customers to believe in you again.