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Why are brands afraid to speak about social issues?

Nowadays many people expect brands to speak up about social and environmental issues. A 2019 survey showed that 70% of consumers believe it’s important for brands to take a public stand on social and political issues. However, a recent research from communication and marketing firm Peppercomm has shown that only 18% of brands are very likely to speak out on any social issues this quarter.

So the interesting question is: why? The same research identified two main explanations. Firstly, brands are concerned about their own credibility. This key challenge concerns whether brands have the reputation to credibly make a statement without risking a potential backfire (for example, speaking up about sustainability while not being very sustainable yourself).

The second reason concerns readiness. For big brands to communicate, there is often a framework with procedures that dictate when and how to take a stand. With events seemingly following each other faster than ever before, relevant communication requires a swift reaction. This is often difficult when there is no clear playbook for your communication in place.

So if you find yourself willing to answer consumers’ needs to take a stand on social issues but something is holding you back, consider tackling these two ‘barricades’ to optimally prepare yourself.