Should Brands Get Political?

Brands are encouraged today to be living, breathing entities with values and to form relationships with customers. Is it any surprise then that some have jumped into politics?

An Obama campaign decal next to the Apple logo on a user's laptop.

In 2012, Apple Inc. spent $1.97 million on lobbying and contributed $620,929 in campaign donations to both political parties.* Should brands get political?

I realized recently that this topic has entered the mainstream conversation when an iconic brand wanted to explain to the public why it did NOT want to jump into the political fray. Starbucks ceo Howard Schultz wrote an open letter explaining why the company did not want its cafes to be battlegrounds in the hotly contested gun control debate. Honestly? Starbucks would just love for you to meet friends or a client at one of its cafes and have some coffee — not picket or protest.

“I am proud of our country and heritage of civil discourse and debate. It is in this spirit that we make today’s request. Whatever your view, I encourage you to be responsible and respectful of each other as citizens and neighbors.” –Howard Schultz, Starbucks ceo

On the other hand, some brands have decided to jump in and announce their views to the world. Last year, Chick-fil-A made headlines with its views on gay marriage rights, which led to passionate responses on both sides of the aisle. Those opposing gay marriage scheduled ‘Chick-fil-A Appreciation Days” to support the company while gay rights advocates called for a boycott. Eager to remove itself from the controversy, the company issued a statement saying it would “leave the policy debate over same-sex marriage to the government and political arena” going forward.

Join the Discussion

Should brands get involved with politics? Or take stands on hotly debated issues?

What’s your take?

Photo courtesy of swiperbootz via a Creative Commons License
*Apple statistics courtesy of Ethical Consumer
Starbucks ceo Howard Schultz’s open letter available at
Chick-fil-A quote via Wikipedia  


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The Art of Branding

Branding is a buzz word today, so everyone wants to drop it like the name of the hottest new rapper out there. While it’s overused and abused, it’s still an instrumental element to companies and people everywhere.

“Good brands are able to set the tone, create the scene, and make us a part of it all.”  –Danny Trizio

We’re all brands, you and me, Apple and Google. Living, breathing entities that customers and fans connect with, get to know and enter into relationships with. Sound strange? OK, think about why you buy an iPhone instead of another smartphone or why you choose Google over Bing. It may be a subconscious choice, but it’s not likely random.

Apple ad

Apple has designed a brand with staying power.

Of course, some brands get it more than others. The aforementioned Apple is one of the strongest brands alive today, and this is coming from an Android fan. I came across a blog post by Danny Trizio, marketing campaign manager at Proforma, touching on why Apple ‘gets it,’ so I’ll let him explain.

Along with the tech icon, another brand who forges a deep bond with customers is ABSOLUT. (Full disclosure: I am a customer!) I previously offered a toast to this icon for its fine take on branding.


One of a kind, millions of expressions…

Keep in mind that it’s not only industry leaders who can develop strong brands. While I’m a fan (and heavy user) of Starbucks, I also love our local spot, Angel Falls Coffee Company. It’s located in a neighborhood with a unique flavor that loves to support mom and pop shops. Angel Falls embraces its role as a local favorite, with an eclectic spot that welcomes you in to play some checkers, discuss current events or people watch while enjoying its brew (and a delicious, fresh out of the oven baked good).

So how can I bond with two brands in the same industry? First, as previously noted on this blog, I’m an espresso addict. Second, I patronize both of these companies on different occasions. I love to walk to Angel Falls to enjoy a steaming GingerBeast (relax, it’s only a gingerbread latte) while catching up with a friend or gazing out the front picture window, lost in thought.

Starbucks is a different breed. It’s everywhere, so I can stop in for a mouth-watering soy hazelnut macchiato, breakfast sandwich or old fashioned glazed doughnut whenever I want. The breakfast sandwiches are available all day, so it’s perfectly OK if I want breakfast for dinner or am really slow moving on a lazy Sunday. I can meet business associates or customers there to discuss projects while enjoying the breeze on the patio. One of the main reasons I became a Starbucks fan is the company’s prevalence in airports. I could grab an espresso and Perfect Oatmeal (which fits neatly on top of a lidded Starbucks cup, by the way) en route to my connecting flight at 7am. Haven’t we all been there?!

Now that I’m not traveling so much, I find that I love hitting up my local Starbucks, which makes every effort to fit into the community. Its baristas are some of the happiest people I see all day, the atmosphere is conducive to thinking (which I like to do) and this coffee giant’s reward program is phenomenal. I was pretty excited when I received my gold card in the mail this week. Brightened up my Monday!

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Chime In

So, who are some of your favorite brands? Who ‘gets’ the power of branding?

Did I miss the boat on any brand I referenced above? Who did I miss?

Let your voice be heard!

(Oh, and I’d be remiss not to mention my favorite brand, Clearly Conveyed Communications.)

Apple ad courtesy of Apple, Inc


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