The Challenge of Branding in Cancel Culture

Social media, social justice, and heightened demands for social responsibility make it more of a challenge to build a brand than it used to be. However, despite a branding/marketing world that seemingly presents more challenges for up and coming businesses, establishing a brand and growing a presence shouldn’t be something for business owners to fear.

It’s easy to get caught up in the overwhelming sentiment for brands to be better across online forums and social media, but it’s important to use those discussions to inform your marketing and how you connect with your audience. Today’s audiences have become hyper aware of social injustices, and sometimes that leads to positive change for communities. 

On the other hand, the spur response of the internet can also impact businesses negatively, removing a chance to fix a wrong and repair their image in the public eye. Due to the fickle nature of the internet, businesses best serve themselves with hypervigilance toward their outward appearance as well as the Brand Experience they’re providing.

In recent news, cancel culture has led to positive changes for brands like Aunt Jemima. It’s causing discussion around the role of Native American mascots in American sports. And it’s bringing the business decisions of major brands like Chick-fil-a and Wayfair into question. 

In the digital age, nothing is temporary and everything you post has the potential to be duplicated and spread. Internet voices can hold influence and businesses should be actively listening to the cultural conversations taking place. 

While all of cancel culture isn’t always merited, it can help your business increase awareness of what your audience values and the context of the world you’re branding in. It’s important to remember the internet isn’t the whole percentage of the world, although it can be an effective marketing tool. In fact, just 7% of Americans use Twitter. 

With businesses struggling due to the circumstances surrounding COVID-19, a down economy, and growing pains of social injustice, brands looking to establish a presence will need to speak to what’s important now.

The majority of companies have had to shift to a reality of less foot traffic, personal interaction, and cash flow. Businesses have had to strategize their communication via digital conference calls. Along with the shift to conducting business online, many have had to reflect on how they can become more socially responsible in order to stay relevant and noticeable. However, it’s important to realize that social initiatives born out of the desire to grow  your brand can come off as disingenuous and stain your image. 

The best strategy for brands during this time is to invest in the community you already have and use them as ambassadors to grow your business. Reach out to them via social media, email, phone, and ask about their needs from your business. Find out how you can better serve them. Several points you should consider, include:

Perform a Brand Review

Look at your brand name, logo, products and packaging to make sure they are positive, beneficial and culturally responsive.

Assess Your Marketing Platforms

Assess at your market technology and operational inefficiencies in your current campaigns. Identify which marketing automation softwares are right for your business goals while ensuring they help you foster community.

Review Paid and Organic Campaigns

Review your organic and paid campaigns to assess what’s generating leads and producing desired results. Consider investing in paid advertising for increased exposure to audiences. 

Stay Trendy

Every brand needs a social guru that’s cued into industry news and trending topics while engaging with your audience to maintain your Brand Experience online.

Make a Brand Promise

What changes do you need to make in order to realize your brand vision? How does your brand affect the community around it? Make a promise to your team, clients, and surrounding community to ensure a positive experience and make a difference where it’s needed.

Brand Champions lead. Be proactive in your decisions to reach out to your community and actually follow through on the mission you set out to achieve.


Works Cited

Hou, Zontee, et al. “7 Surprising Statistics About Twitter in America.” Content Marketing Consulting and Social Media Strategy, 29 May 2016,

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