Developing a Brand in the Age of Political Correctness

Developing a Brand in the Age of Political Correctness from North Carolina Lifestyle Blogger Adventures of Frugal Mom

At the present juncture in time, a great deal of attention is being paid to the need to be “politically correct.” Many people take great care to avoid saying or writing something that could be misconstrued as being what oftentimes is called “politically incorrect.” The machinations regarding political correctness have now extended into the world of branding, particularly brand development.

Bold Versus Politically Incorrect Branding

In this day and age, the difference between making a bold statement and one that is politically incorrect can become muddled. Brand development can strive for bold without being unnecessarily politically incorrect. A brand can be bold without being offensive. In addition, a brand can even have a whimsical or humorous air about it, if appropriate, without crossing the line to become politically incorrect. Ascertaining what is and is not politically correct is not always an exercise in examining statements and images in black and white. There is an element of objectiveness to the entire concept of political correctness.

There are some statements and images that can be classified as patently politically incorrect. On the other hand, other statements and images would be in the bold category for some individuals and politically incorrect for others. One need only look at marketing campaigns by companies like Starbucks that resulted in certain segments of the community crying “foul.”

In order to hit the mark at bold, but not politically incorrect, a company really must understand its targeted market. Most small businesses have an identifiable market niche to which they promote their goods or services. By understanding that market niche, a business is able to ascertain what is bold and what is politically incorrect, at least to that segment of the marketplace.

Intentionally Politically Incorrect Branding

There are some enterprises, typically classified as something of “fringe” companies, that intentionally develop a politically incorrect brand. Typically, this strategy is employed in order to attempt to jump ahead of the pack through the shock value of the brand.

The underlying goal is not only to develop and utilize a brand that shouts out but obtains collateral publicity as well. In other words, a brand that dallies with the politically incorrect will not only directly snare the attention of the public but in some cases ends up being reported on in the media.

Sacrificing Effective Branding on the Altar of Political Correctness

A mistake a business can make in the era of political correctness is to sacrifice effective branding in the name of being hyper-cautious. In other words, there is an ever-increasing number of instances in which a business developing new brand concepts ends unnecessarily sacrificing an otherwise effective brand on the proverbial altar of political correctness.

In the final analysis, coming up with a provocative, and yet politically correct, a brand is a balancing act. It requires understanding nuance and crafting a brand in a manner that understands not only the surface message but implied communications as well.

The Importance of Market Research

Market research has always been an integral part of serious brand development. Indeed, only what might be considered a fly by night operation would embark on a branding endeavor without utilizing market research along the way.

At the onset of the Great Recession of 2008, businesses of all types began looking for ways in which they could cut their budgets. One area in which businesses made cuts was in regard to market research. These enterprises concluded that market research was somehow a luxury or otherwise not necessary. Some businesses have rebooted their market research efforts as the economy has carried forth with its slow rebound. Some others have not.

In fact, market research is vital, particularly when it comes to brand creation and development. In the final analysis, no brand development effort is complete without undertaking at least some market research. A business simply cannot fully (or even partially) understand how consumers will respond to a brand without testing it out in front of consumers. The first test of a brand’s worthiness should not be done in front of the general public. Simply tossing a brand out to the public at large without any market research can prove fatal for a business.

Typically, the best approach to undertaking brand development related market research is to utilize focus groups. This can include a combination of individual focus groups. For example, one focus groups could be comprised of a broader cross-section of the general public. Another focus group could consist of consumers that are identified as being most likely to have an interest in the products or services of a particular business.

Jessica Kane is a writer for 777Sign, a leading provider of wholesale advertising flags, banners, tablecloths, and more. 


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