Speaking up on trending causes is a good way of attracting attention to your brand. But the challenge lies in speaking up the right way, such that individuals react positively to your advocacy efforts.

That’s because many brands know that speaking up can generate positive returns, and so they will try to speak up on as many causes as they can. But many of these campaigns fall flat as the brand comes off as engaging in virtue signalling — in other words, expressing support for a cause just to look good, without actually doing anything worthwhile towards the cause.

So, how can you protect your brand from such accusations when launching your next cause-based campaign? And how can you engage in meaningful conversations about your chosen causes? Check out these three strategies.

1. Speak up only for social events that your brand identifies with

While there are countless causes that your brand can back, your brand should show support for just those that resonate with its values. Speaking up for every single cause can backfire as consumers perceive your brand as trying too hard to be ‘woke’, and hence being inauthentic.

As an example, the Always brand under Procter & Gamble sells feminine hygiene products, so it’s a no-brainer for it to speak up on feminist causes. Its #LikeAGirl campaign for empowering girls across the globe was positively received, with one campaign video being viewed close to 70 million times and receiving 340,000+ likes to date.

On the other hand, when McDonald’s decided to flip its golden arches logo upside down to form a ‘W’ in commemoration of International Women’s Day 2018, many were unimpressed by the gesture. Why?

Because they thought the fast-food chain was being insincere in its efforts to support women, considering how it wasn’t even paying its employees a living wage.

2. Walk the talk

Actions speak louder than words. Don’t just say that you back a particular cause — you have to also put your money where your mouth is. In other words, what has your brand actually done to help the causes that it says it supports?

McDonald’s getting criticism for its International Women’s Day 2018 campaign, as mentioned above, is a good example of a brand being perceived as not walking the talk. In this regard, perhaps McDonald’s can take a leaf out of Netflix’s book. When Netflix tweeted in a viral tweet last year that ‘Black lives matter’, it didn’t just stop there.

The streaming platform created a new ‘Black Lives Matter’ film and TV collection that highlighted racial injustice against Blacks in America. Not only that: it also pledged $5 million towards organizations that support Black youth, creators and business owners.

3. Leverage your brand messaging to draw attention

When you’ve picked the right causes to speak up on, think about how you can leverage your brand messaging to draw attention to your campaigns. One good way of doing so is by making subtle but impactful modifications to your existing slogans and taglines.

For example, Nike is known for its famous ‘Just Do It’ slogan, which has been popular since the 1980s. But did you know there has been at least one time where the athletics giant told people ‘Don’t Do It’?

This happened just last year when the brand voiced its support for racial equality, telling its followers in an Instagram video not to ignore the problem of racism in America or pretend that it doesn’t exist. Instead, Nike urged everyone to take action to be part of the change — and the video was well-received, garnering over 16 million views and 41,000 comments to date.

It’s time to speak up

When you’re planning cause-based campaigns for your brand, having a sound strategy is crucial. You don’t want all your efforts to be wasted as your customers react negatively, or accuse your brand of virtue signalling.

First, be selective about the causes that you support. Choose only those that your brand genuinely believes in, and be prepared to back up your claims of support with actions that prove you mean what you say.

That doesn’t mean that your campaigns need to be boring, though. When creating your marketing content, look into crafting meaningful and impactful messages based on your brand’s values and taglines.

And when it comes to producing the marketing collaterals for your campaign, you can research human rights poster templates to get inspiration on how your graphics could look like. Then, customize the templates to fit in with the ideals of your brand.

So, how will your brand meaningfully speak out on causes?