When your clients brand is divisive, what’s the best way to leverage them?
- Do you promote them?
- Downplay then?
- Does it help or hurt?
- And does it make you want to go niche to leverage those brands (and by proxy their fanatical brand followers)?
Because I need to stay versed on industry and client competitor trends I spend a bit of time looking at how companies market themselves online, specifically with their websites. What caught my eye most recently is how businesses display their elite client rosters. It’s only natural and beneficial to display prime businesses that you work with. But, what happens when your existing client’s brand is likely to make some of your prospective clients squeamish?
We can all think of brands that at some point got involved with politics, national issues and/or religion. These things often hit a spike of emotion and then fade away. But I’m sure you remember having an opinion about Chick Fil A, Starbucks, Papa John’s or Hobby Lobby in the last year and Cadillac more recently. These are just a few examples and there will always be new ones popping up. If you work for these brands in a vendor capacity, do you suddenly downplay them when things get touchy? Here are a few thoughts when considering how to promote and leverage ‘risky’ brands.
- Evaluate whether this is a temporary trend or a permanent situation. A pharmaceutical company that offers a highly divisive drug is more likely to be a permanent issue to address. While a CEO that makes a political statement in an election year always fades as time goes and news topics change.
- Look at the numbers for your market. Based on your target audience, how likely is this to alienate the ones you want to do business with. If the brand is mildly offensive to a small group that’s mostly out of your target, you may actually gain traction if it aligns with your base.
- Keep your company brand in mind. Does this client represent your own company ideals? We can’t all be so blessed as to pick and choose all of our clients, especially with a small company. But when promoting existing clients, it’s important to consider what image they portray. If one of your company’s high points is environmental causes, it’s unlikely that a large oil and gas client is going to resonate.
- Identify an opportunity to go niche. Sometimes when you start getting a few clients that fall into a specific category (conservative, liberal, women, men, etc) it’s an opportunity to leverage those brands and focus on more business that’s like-minded. This isn’t my favorite approach, but can work well. Nothing’s more powerful than a fanatical fan base.
For examples of brand blunders, search Google – there are countless examples, and new ones are happening every day.