Take a Stand with Dogmatic Branding

In an increasingly impulsive and unpredictable world, with political, economic, social and cultural conventions being upended on a seemingly daily basis, brands can no longer sit on the fence as passive observers. Navigating this erratic landscape requires Dogmatic Branding – the adoption of frank, socially conscious and even controversial narratives in order to be relevant to consumers.

As we move into the third decade of the 21st century, Dogmatic Branding will evolve into something more strategic – a longer term vision that focuses on having real substance and memorability. But as you’ll see in the following examples, this trend has already found its footing with notable results.


Sports brand giant Nike recently made its political leanings crystal clear by signing an endorsement deal with former NFL player, Colin Kaepernick. Taking a stand against social injustice and racism, the star athlete dared to kneel during the US national anthem. His actions ignited a movement, and Kaepernick was deemed a hero by those who shared his views. There was, however, a severe backlash from those who didn’t. Extreme conservative voices, including the current POTUS, demanded the Kaepernick be suspended or fired. In this way, Kaepernick became highly a polarising symbol.

In spite of this, or because of this, Nike signed Kaepernick to be the new face of the ‘Just Do It’ campaign. The power of the campaign is immediately arresting, featuring a black and white photo of Kaepernick’s eyes with the powerful statement, “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.”

This was a risky strategy resulting immediately in brand boycotts and the stock market value tumbling.  However, within days the brand recovered and, according to CBS News, Nike is now performing at ‘an all-time high’. Whilst the campaign caused initial outrange that cost Nike some consumers, it successfully solidified its relationship with the younger, urban generation who make up their client base.


Another good example of a brand using long-term thinking to take a stand with more substance is the Heart Immigration campaign by UK fashion retailer Jigsaw. Key to the campaign, and the validity of its message, was the way it showed how the company owed its success to globalization and diversity by letting its employees analyse the ancestry of their genes. Making the diverse origins of the people in its business core to the campaign meant that Jigsaw stood firm on its position, with both authority and integrity.

Ephemeral campaigns of the past are no longer relevant to consumers who are becoming more and more interested in what your brand believes in and stands for. Brands must show this by investing in long-lasting campaigns that show dedication and devotion to a cause.

Tread cleverly, however, as consumers are wary of brands using social issues in order to purely generate PR. To show an awareness of issues way outside of their usual sphere of influence, brands must illustrate real authenticity in the values and beliefs, and its desire to inform and empower its consumers.


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