3 Brands That Have Earned the Right to Talk About Big Issues

Written by Daniel Southwell on February 23, 2021

Over the last few months and years, we’ve seen brands making statements on sensitive issues at a rate we wouldn’t have imagined not long before. From racial inequality to community health, every kind of company has weighed in with their official stance.

Of course not all of these statements are empty, but many are. At best, they’re an indication that we’ve started looking in strange places for moral leadership. At worst, they’re a transparent attempt to profit off awareness of suffering, without contributing anything other than words.

But, some brands actually do stand for more. They walk the walk, so when they talk the talk, they have the ethos that means we should listen to them.

Here are three examples.

BEYOUROWN: #IWillUseMyVoice

In our Marketing Conversation with BEYOUROWN founder Samanah Duran, she talks about the importance of being honest about your organization’s commitment to good. If you talk a good game in your marketing but don’t actually take any steps to make the problem better, to make your company’s impact on the world a positive one, consumers will understand that you’re only in it for the positive press. The public is getting better at sniffing that out every day.

She offers #IWillUseMyVoice as an example of a positive-change movement that’s consistent with who they are. #IWillUseMyVoice was created to amplify the voices of black women in the UK. It does active good by using its platform to center black women, and it’s inherently consistent with who BEYOUROWN is as an organization, because they’ve always been about empowering women and sharing women’s voices.

Patagonia: Environmental Justice is Racial Justice

When we talk about brands that walk the walk, Patagonia is one of the first that comes to mind. Since their founding, they’ve been dedicated to protecting the natural world, and proactively working for the good of humanity and the planet. As a Certified B Corp, they meet rigorous ethical and environmental standards. From their transparency, to donating over $89 million to environmental causes, they’ve established themselves as doers, not just talkers.

So when they call on us to pay attention to a problem, like the way climate change disproportionately affects people of color, we know two things. First, they’re a brand we can listen to. Second, we know that they’re working to combat the problem, not just talking about it to earn clicks and dollars. They’ve earned the right to talk about heavy issues.

Beauty Counter: Better Beauty

Beauty Counter wants us to care about something most of us haven’t thought much about: the laws that regulate the cosmetics industry. Specifically, they want to increase regulation on the ingredients that can be used in beauty products – something that hasn’t happened in the US since 1938. In their #BetterBeauty movement, they advocate for more scrutiny and care in how we manufacture these products. 

This isn’t hypocrisy. Beauty Counter practices what they preach. They believe in “clean beauty,” a term that encompasses their whole impact, including a “never list” of 1,800 ingredients they commit to never use in their products, and working with scientists to continually innovate their search for healthy and planet-friendly products. They’ve proved that they’re worthy of advocating for a healthier beauty industry by providing a roadmap for what that could look like.

Preach What You Practice

If you want to build an image as a good-doing brand, there’s nothing wrong with that. We need examples of that in the world. But look for the good that’s at the heart of what your brand does, and talk about that. Don’t pretend to care about a cause that’s getting buzz at the moment. Commit to doing, and talking about, the good at the core of your company’s identity when it’s cool and even more when it isn’t.

And if you look for the good at the heart of your brand and can’t find it, that’s where your work can start.