We have to talk about brands and activism

Engaging with social causes is a current demand, but it’s only valid if it’s true and forthright

Brand activism has been gaining prominence over the past few decades. Currently, in order to remain competitive, they must build a territory with a positive impact, adopting a clear and committed position with one or more causes. In doing so, the challenge they face is how to approach it constructively, being true to the brand’s values.

Given this situation, here are some reflections to help brands understand the different types and levels of activism, along with the risks and benefits that come with them. Paths that, if followed with truth and transparency, can lead to a real and lasting commitment.

Different types and profiles of brand activism

Since each brand is different, we categorized several activism profiles according to the brand DNA and the relationship it intends to maintain with its stakeholders:



Activist brands since its creation, committed to causes related to its fundamental values, which are supported by the founding partners or general managers. They truly aspire to achieve social change and create a strong emotional bond with their followers, so much so that they often become brand ambassadors.

The most well-known and successful example may be Patagonia, the outdoor lifestyle brand committed to environmental causes whose “Don’t Buy This Jacket” ad encourages people to reconsider impulsive shopping. Ben & Jerry’s (Unilever) also stands out for being a brand committed since its inception to different social causes.

Paradigm Breakers

Innovative and pioneering brands in their markets. Their products and services are their hallmark of activism, as they are born expressly to change patterns. They forge an emotional bond with their consumers by meeting previously unmet needs.

Examples include Impossible Burger and Future Farm, innovative brands in the meat substitutes sector. Its mission is to reduce the environmental impact and encourage the consumption of plant-based protein.


They are the brands that, although not being so open and constantly committed, they defend their values and causes in a coherent way. They lead attractive actions and are agile in taking a stand on current issues that fit and connect with their values, joining the conversation and fostering debate.

For example, Starbucks in the United States has been involved in social justice issues, banning guns in its stores, supporting same-sex marriage and fomenting debate about racism.


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Advantages & disadvantages of brand activism

Below, we list the pros and cons that every brand should consider before taking a stand.

Best practices for positive, real and lasting impact

1. Define a clear and powerful brand positioning

What is the reason to be of the brand, its beliefs? What is its DNA, personality and target audience?

2. Choose your battles

It is necessary to identify the causes in which it will have credibility. They must be aligned with the core values of the brand.