Your Brand’s Role in the Black Lives Matter Movement

Photographer: Mike Von

The time for change is now. Brands are trying to navigate their position among all the media noise, while still understanding how to propel the unified goal for equality, forward. At Helen & Gertrude, we wear many hats. As a full-service digital agency, we are a team full of photographers and designers, strategists and analysts, marketers and copywriters, account and project managers. But above all, we are here as a collective team to support our clients and keep them informed of best practices and give recommendations for their brand, especially in times of crisis and hardship. Because creating beautiful content only goes so far, we also understand the importance of the messages we mold and the influence our brands may have. We are just as responsible for the impact our brands have, as they are. As marketers, we hold the power to communicate with others and spread our values in effort to bring change. We are in this together. Now more than ever, we strive to provide our clients with coherent plans to move forward and bring change. Here’s our advice to you.       

Be authentic. People want to engage with brands that align with their beliefs and do so in a genuine way. According to RetailMeNot’s 2019 “Retail Marketing Handbook,” 66% of consumers think brands should take a public stand on important social values. Not only do they want you to be involved, they expect it. Do not just jump on the bandwagon, but show your genuine intent through actions. There is no greater commitment to a cause than doing something that has a measurable impact. This is about more than posting in solidarity, this is about making a change. 

Represent black culture. Your content should include black models and influencers, and partner with black-owned businesses. Representing black culture is important for the audience to feel seen and included. People of all different races will be purchasing your product, so why not SHOW that? Acknowledge the issue of underrepresented black culture in the industry, and work against it. 

Take a step back from the limelight. We’ve encouraged our brands to pause posting during this time, in order to leave space for the voices of those in the black community, who are directly involved in the cause. If you are still determined to post during these upcoming weeks, content shouldn’t continue as normal, but should be reflected on and altered to be more sensitive.  A few of our brands are posting less frequently, and are sharing their efforts in the cause by donating money. 

Become advocates from the inside out. Diversity within the organization is just as important as diversity outside. Hiring black employees is reflective of your efforts in the entire Black Lives Matter movement, while hiring strictly white people is sending a very obvious anti-inclusive message. This is only step one, it is crucial to build the culture internally with and for your black employees to ensure they feel valued and safe in the workplace. As we build up businesses with a strong, diverse workforce, we must ensure our values hold true as well. Our job at H&G is to help these values be well exemplified, so when your brand takes a stand, it is aligned with those values you and your audience are well aware of. Having strong beliefs will make your response time quicker in these situations. You already know your stance, now do something. 

We are reflective on the changes happening in the world. Covid-19 has added to this reflection some, but there has always been a strong need for change. We need to be an army of allies, and while there may not be a single solution, we will work together to bring crucial change. Changes in laws and stated values, series of concerted efforts, and material efforts make it possible. This is not a far off wish for black lives to be treated equally, it is a matter of effort and change we can bring. We are here to support your brand messaging and navigate the many questions that may arise.