In an era where every click and share counts—and product and marketing strategies are spun out in mere hours based on TikTok trends—brands are caught in the whirlwind of staying true to their core while trying to appease an ever-diverse and evolving audience. The struggle for authenticity is real.
The recent Bentley-Gallup Business in Society Report underscores the nuance of this balancing act. While older demographics might prefer neutrality on sociopolitical topics, younger, Black and Asian audiences seek brands that vocally resonate with their values. And overall, sentiment about the impact business has on society continues to trend in a more positive direction.
The takeaway? More than ever, marketers need to figure out how to walk the tightrope between brand safety and authenticity—while realizing and preparing for the impact those positions are likely to have. It’s about understanding the depths of brand values and acknowledging the multifaceted landscape of consumer perception. A misstep with one demographic, while supporting or intending to appeal to another, can lead to a ripple effect of unintended consequences–whether it’s Bud Light or Chick-fil-A. In those crisis moments, brands are confronted with what might seem like a lack of control of their own image. Or as Marty Neumeier said in his book, "The Brand Gap," “Your brand isn’t what you say it is. It’s what they say it is.”