Kap and Elon: Morality is Big Business

Nike just made Colin Kaepernick the face of their Just Do It campaign and the spot made waves around the world. I’m a fan of both Colin and Nike, so naturally I was thrilled to see this collaboration. But some did not share the same sentiment. 👟🔥

Colin Kapernick, the new face of Nike’s 30 year old Just Do It campaign

Nike was ok with this. They took a stance on a social issue and it faired well for them. Why? They’ve build up trust, being consistent over the years, always fighting for the underdog.

The ad was a touchdown: timing, brand messaging, iconic design, creating a cultural moment, positioning for the future, and of course, this sent their stock soaring to an all-time-high. 📈

Morality is big business.

Seeking: Chief Morality Officer

Taking some time to let this all simmer, I wondered—who makes these decisions on what a brand stands for? Brands define their values, narrative, tone, imagery, etc. but to what effect should they define their moral and ethical stances? And who’s in charge of it? Are we about to see the rise of the Chief Morality Officer?

Patagonia recently responded to Donald Trump for reducing the size of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments. Kudos to them for following through: they created an online platform to connect customers with environmental groups and have stood up for the environment in their history.

What happens when 📉?

What if a brand’s stance doesn’t align with the market and they take a loss? What happens when things don’t go over so well? Should you backtrack and do a PR campaign apologizing for it? Or do only massive brands have the luxury of being political?

Tesla stock went for a dive after Elon Musk smokes a joint on the Joe Rogan podcast

If you’re starting to enter this space as a company, take a step back and really ask yourselves: What are our core beliefs as individuals and as a company? What would I donate a portion of my paycheck for? Do we believe in this enough to commit long-term? Only then will you know if you’re doing this for the right reasons or just following a trend.

Morality can be good for your brand, but only if you genuinely mean it.

Today, businesses are not only measured by how much value they provide to shareholders, but for their social impact as well. In the case of Nike and Patagonia, I truly feel that they mean what they say and applaud them for it.

The world is divided at the moment, and brands are in a position to use their platforms to influence positive change while ensuring their viability with future audiences. More than half of consumers worldwide consider themselves to be belief-driven buyers and social responsibility is a high priority for younger generations.

If corporations are people, we should expect them to have opinions and thoughts. And we should hold them accountable beyond how many likes, shares, and retweets they get. After all, when we decide to purchase their products we’re inviting them into our lives, building a personal relationship with them.

When brands get woke, make sure you do too. 👀

Frank is a Product Designer at Headspace.

You can follow him on Twitter and Instagram.