• Lindsay Grace Kinniburgh

12 ways to support Black Lives Matter through brand purpose

Updated: Jun 23, 2020

There is no question, we are facing times of critical change. 2020 has been a rollercoaster of unknowns and while COVID-19 impacted us in ways we could never have imagined, the Black Lives Matter movement has been the ultimate driving force for a monumental and much-needed shift in the way we connect as a global community.

Standing up and speaking out on social issues is often a calculated decision.

Confronted with the reality of systemic racism that exists in our modern society may be uncomfortable for some companies, but the united stand for justice and equality is a long time coming and no less will be accepted.

We are entering a game-changing moment in history and it is the responsibility of individuals, businesses and brands to drive positive change.

While some businesses are deciding to step out of the conversation surrounding racial injustice, other's are wading in to vocally align themselves and their brand purpose with the #BlackLivesMatter movement.

Brands using their voice for a purpose

Amazon Founder Jeff Bezos took to social media recently to openly respond to one customer's heated racial views regarding Amazon's support towards Black Lives Matter.

Standing by Amazon's brand purpose, Mr Bezos pointed out, “This sort of hate shouldn’t be allowed to hide in the shadows… this is just one example of the problem. And, Dave, you’re the kind of customer I’m happy to lose."

Netflix also took to Twitter posting, "To be silent is to be complicit."

Lego pulled all advertising of police and white house playsets. The children's toy company also donated $4 million dollars to "organizations dedicated to supporting Black children and educating all children about racial equality."

Nike launched its impactful #UntilWeAllWin campaign. The brand was quick to support the movement against prejudice by altering their well-known tagline from "Just Do It" to, "For once, Don’t Do It". The ad was so impactful, it was even shared by Nike's major rival, Adidas.

Australian fashion brand Cotton On also posted messages of support on their Instagram alongside a pledge of financial support.

The popular children's programme Sesame Street teamed up with CNN for an anti-racism special featuring much-loved puppet, Elmo. The episode labelled, “Coming Together: Standing Up to Racism” is designed to help parents explain the importance of standing up to and taking action against racism.

Personal Brands using their voice for a purpose

Smart personal brands are also coming forward to use their brand voice for purpose and positive change.

Oprah took to her Television platform for a two-night special, 'Where Do We Go from Here?'

Her refreshingly honest and enriching conversations centre around, "Will this be the moment that changes our country?"

If you're in the US you can watch the episodes online at OWN TV or via Youtube.

Canadian Designer and Netflix star Karin Bohn also took to IGTV to open up about her personal thoughts surrounding racism.

During an 8-minute video, Karin candidly speaks about confronting her own bias and pledges her commitment to learning more about racism.

The response to her video was powerfully positive with one fan @janelleaking commenting, "no one is looking for perfection in navigating this but you showed humility, empathy and understanding. Thank you!'

High profile personal brand, Victoria Beckham also used Instagram to share her thoughts with 28 million followers.

"I’ve taken a step back this week to focus on the tragic events that have been highlighted recently. Watching things unfold and learning more about the Black Lives Matter movement, I’ve been truly sickened by how deeply ingrained racism is in our society.

It’s clear that it’s each of our responsibilities to speak out and I want to use my platform for education, conversation and change.

The fashion industry has a huge role to play, and for me, it starts with representation, both within my business and who we work with externally. I’ve always aimed for inclusivity, but we all need to look inwards and be better. At Victoria Beckham, we’ve set up an internal working group as a first step and will provide additional support to ensure that we are listening to each other, discussing the issues, identifying unconscious bias in ourselves and ensuring our short and long-term actions reflect all our learnings.

Whilst things won’t change or be solved in a day, we clearly can’t wait another day to start and I am absolutely committed to being better and doing more, both personally and professionally. I hope you all share my sentiment and are doing the same with your friends, family, brands and businesses so that we all play our part in this vital issue. x vb"

As the owner of my own purpose-driven marketing agency, I felt compelled to use my own voice and platforms to actively support Black Lives Matter. Like so many others, the deeply disturbing and incomprehensible murder of George Floyd was a major catalyst for waking up to the realisation that people of colour are suffering in a way that no human should.

Signing petitions, writing to Governours, joining Sydney's Black Lives Matter protest, speaking up, learning about Black history, blogging, using social media and helping others support Black Lives Matter through brand purpose are just a few of the actions we have taken at Outsourced imagination.

But we pledge that is just the first step. We will continue to stand against social injustice because staying in the shadows and doing nothing nourishes a worldwide problem. Silence does not support a solution and we each have a responsibility to do what's ethical and what's right.

It's time to embody a better truth of who we are as a humanity.

Supporting Black Lives Matter through Brand Purpose

12 ways to support Black Lives Matter

To support businesses that are unsure where to go from here, we’ve created 12 important steps to demonstrate how you can use your brand voice during a time when the world needs you.

1. Educate yourself and your team on the reality of racism. The way it exists in your community and around the world.

2. Open up discussions in your workplace about racism. Encourage people to share stories and experiences. Create a safe space through frank conversations fueled with compassion and delivered with care.

3. Review your internal policies. Update your Code of Ethics where necessary. If you don’t have this document already, make sure you put one in place and share it with your team. (You can view ours by clicking on the image below.)

4. Prove your commitment by reviewing your recruitment policies and internal culture. Perhaps it's time to hire more black people and have more black voices in your organisation.

5. Invite a speaker to talk about the challenges people of colour face. Help others to understand.

6. Review the local community where you operate. What can your company do to support?

7. Share important informative links with fellow colleagues. Create an internal newsletter to raise awareness of equality and social justice. Invite your staff to contribute.

8. If you haven’t signed a petition, start thinking about putting your name down in support of justice, equality and political change. Invite your team members to do the same.

9. If you can, make a donation to a reputable organisation.

10. Review your marketing messages. Is your business purpose-driven in your messages and interactions with customers, staff and stakeholders?

12. Evaluate your brand purpose and purpose-driven marketing strategies. There’s likely to be so much more your business could be doing to contribute to a more conscious world.

12. Start leading as well as joining engaging online conversations that are geared toward solving racially focused problems.

Today, businesses that are willing to use their brand purpose for good and choosing to take diversity and inclusion seriously, are the brands that are likely to stand out.

Companies shouldn't be afraid to make Black Lives Matter an important part of brand purpose. However, the brands that do step up must maintain and sustain promises and intentions into lasting change.

Now, the question is - how will you move forward today?

Article by Lindsay Grace Kinniburgh

Founder & CMO at Outsourced imagination

Photo Credit: Mike Flynn at The Palms Agency

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