In 2020 alone, marketers have shepherded their brands through responses to COVID-19, social justice issues, a changing market across nearly all industries, environmental concerns and much more. Not to mention we’re only days away from an extremely important—and polarizing—presidential election.
How can brands handle this season, remain true to their identities and engage well in this time of political intensity? By focusing on the practice that unites us and gives us all a voice—voting.
The good news? Getting political and speaking out on your beliefs doesn’t have to involve endorsing a specific candidate. (It certainly can, if your brand feels strongly about one candidate over another!) But by engaging in and promoting the voting process, brands can enter a meaningful and crucial civic conversation while lowering the risk of polarizing their audience and putting action behind their brand values.
In a poll conducted by Morning Consult, 46% of consumers said they view companies involved with voter registration efforts more favorably. 58% said the same about companies that give their employees Election Day off. In fact, many experts believe that brands that stay silent on voting-related topics risk negative attention from consumers due to seeming less engaged.
“If you have strong feelings about issues and you’re fortunate enough to have both the forum and large audience to speak to, you should use it. Why wouldn’t you?” says Scott Brooks, Transmedia Producer at GS&F and member of the GS&F Community Committee.
“I think we need to normalize companies talking more about issues,” adds Yanet Mireles, Art Director, and Community Committee member. When you endorse or promote voting, you’re simply encouraging audiences to use their voices, since more participation leads to a truer representation of popular opinion. Partnerships with established organizations, such as Rock the Vote, can also help brands enter the conversation effectively.
What Does “Getting Political” Mean for Your Brand?
In a case study by the Harvard Kennedy School’s Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation, researchers discovered that many companies’ civic engagement didn’t only have an impact on poll numbers. Those companies, including Patagonia, Snapchat, Spotify, and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota, saw increased brand awareness, increased employee satisfaction, and fulfilled consumer expectations.
So when it comes to your brand, engaging politically is a win-win. Consumers expect you to speak up, you have a platform and you have a voice—so use it to encourage and inform your audience! If your local area has a tougher time getting voters to the polls, for example, your brand’s work can be even more critical—and you’ll show an understanding of your audience that goes deeper than their relationship to your brand.
GS&F Gets Out the Vote
Months before the election, the GS&F Community Committee leapt into action with the Friends Who Vote initiative. “We wanted to make registering and voting as easy as possible for people,” Brooks says. To get information out quickly, we turned to social media.
“We used the GS&F social channels to reach internal and external audiences,” Fowler explains. “We focused a lot of our efforts on Instagram stories, using the ‘Register to Vote’ sticker that takes you straight to vote.gov to register.” The team included reminders about important election deadlines and polled users about voting plans.
“As an agency, we want everyone to have their voice heard—because everyone’s unique opinion matters here,” Brooks adds.
At GS&F, we always fight for the audience—whether for our own brand or for yours. And when your audience wants to see brands taking a stand and engaging in civic issues, we’re going to encourage you to speak up!
Plus, you can get political in a way that’s unique to your brand and makes sense for your overall business goals. It won’t look the same as others, but that’s a good thing—you can stand out while contributing to making our world a better place.
Check out our #FriendsWhoVote initiative for some inspiration for your brand. We’ll see you at the polls!