A Rose By Any Other Name: The Evolution of Brand Reputation and Accountability in the Era of Cancel Culture

By Josch Chodakowsky

No matter which side of the cancel culture debate you may fall on, the impact it has for brands hasn't essentially changed from any other previous form of accountability companies have faced. Consumers expect brands to act, at the least consistently with the values they espouse, and studies continue to show that a brand's reputation and trust among consumers increase when they're doing good for society, whether that's through sustainability initiatives or in the ways they're helping communities.

The proliferation of social channels and digital accessibility has only amplified consumers' voices, and the power they yield today (made clear by how effective influencer marketing has proven to be) shows that brands can't afford to ignore them. But if consumers are more aware than ever about a brand's actions, then now as never before brands need to be more self-aware of how they interact with the world around them. The resources collected here aim to help marketers navigate this evolution in accountability.

Check out the resources below.

How Brands Can Use Consumer Identity and Brand Reputation to Navigate Cancel Culture. Mintel, April 2021.
The motivations behind cancel culture are not likely to diminish any time soon; in the last few years, consumers' ethical standards for brands and the desire to hold brands accountable have only heightened. One of the biggest learnings from 2020 is that there will always be a "next normal" to challenge how people think about corporate social responsibility and brand ethics. As culture continues to evolve and change, so must brands. The brands that proactively adapt their business practices around the concept of accountability, instead of waging war on cancel culture, will be poised for the future.

Corporate Cancel Culture and the Rise of Stakeholder Accountability. Sustainable Brands, April 2021.
Although the term "cancel culture" is still hotly debated, the rise of stakeholder accountability is undeniable. Today, brands must learn how to navigate this new norm before one misstep puts them in a social media firestorm. Sustainable Brands; webinar session featured research from Porter Novelli (first explored here) on how individuals are using the act of cancel culture to hold brands accountable, the mechanics of corporate cancel culture in society today, and how leading with Purpose can help mitigate future cancellations. A panel of experts from across industries also spoke more about how organizations are addressing this cultural phenomenon – or at times – approaching hot-button issues head on.

Managing Brand Reputation in the Midst of Cancel Culture. CMO from IDG, April 2021.
In the era of cancel culture, one poorly thought-out message can do sudden and severe damage to a brand. But marketers today find themselves on the hook for more than just what brands say to the world. Bad executive behavior, supply chain issues, and poorly thought-out operational decisions (such as the dynamiting of sacred sites), can quickly damage brands, professional reputations, and the bottom line. For marketers, this means they can add mop-and-bucket duty to their existing long list of responsibilities.

There is no shortage of brands that have faced consumer backlash for ill thought-out statements and actions. What has changed, however, is the speed at which that backlash can occur, and how far its impact can reach. In this article from IDG's CMO imprint, marketers and thought leaders share how brand custodians need to rethink reputation and crisis management in the face of growing cultural and societal consumer expectations

Customer Satisfaction is Key During Cancel Culture Times: How Do Brands Navigate? MediaVillage, April 2021.
With cancel culture running rampant, customer care has never been more important. How do we stay atop of our constantly evolving technology to keep our businesses in sync? How can we make sure that the technology we are using is accessible, inclusive, and not extractive? Media Village was joined by Zendesk's Kathy Dalpes, an innovative vice president of global customer support with more than 20 years of experience driving operations success for industry leaders like Spotify, eBay, Skype, AT&T, outsourcing leader SITEL Corporation, and global leader in connectivity solutions, BELKIN. Zendesk makes customer service better keeping both internal and external customer bases happy. 

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Josch Chodakowsky is a senior manager of research and innovation at ANA.

The views and opinions expressed in Marketing Futures Pulse are solely those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect the official position of the ANA or imply endorsement from the ANA.

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