How to Avoid Toxic Positivity When it comes to branding, stay positive but don't overdo it.
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As anxieties continue to mount from an unclear future, brands must swiftly adjust messaging to reflect our current times. Many companies' initial reactions may be to push out uplifting messages to counteract unpleasant realities. However, brands need to beware of contributing to Toxic Positivity. Although consumers are seeking comfort, overly positive messaging can be counterproductive as they undermine the pain the world is experiencing.
Positive branding vs. Toxic positivity
Through affirmative thoughts and feelings, positive branding typically triggers warm emotions and reactions among consumers. Positive branding can be attributed to the organization producing quality products or even exceptional customer service, but it often goes beyond operations itself. It can involve the company's public stance on political issues, sourcing choices, or social causes. Toxic Positivity is when a company excessively produces overly positive and optimistic messaging to a point that it minimizes the true human experience, that of which is not always idealistic.
Why is positive branding still important?
In challenging times like that of the pandemic, positive branding is not only an option, it's become a necessity. But positive branding must be considerate, going beyond a cheerful post or "we're in this together" sentiment. A range of companies use challenging times to partner with nonprofits or donate a portion of their proceeds to organizations that are making a difference. While on the surface this seems like a generous act (and there's no denying that it absolutely is), organizations that do not genuinely align their brand with these selfless causes tend to be called out.
Time to put yourself in your customer's shoes. If you have the option of purchasing a product from two different brands, but only one of them stands for the values that you believe in or, say, is offering to donate a portion of sales to a good cause, who do you choose? It's a no brainer, right? Most people will always opt for the companies with values that they align with. Essentially, individuals feel as though they're doing a good thing for simply making a purchase they were going to make anyway. It's truly a win-win!
How can you avoid Toxic Positivity?
Now that you recognize just how important positive branding is for your company, it's important you avoid Toxic Positivity. In this fast-paced, ever-changing, mixed-up world you must be mindfully positive without invalidating your customer's challenges or struggles. Here are three tips to get you started.
1. Identify your company's values
Values should be the cornerstone of your organization, not tucked away in a folder on your Google Drive somewhere. If you are serious about positive branding, it's time to bring your values to the forefront. These should be more than just a list of feel-good terms in a document. Values should be the culture that your business collectively lives, breathes and works by. Promoting fake or superficial values will be your undoing so make sure that you act authentically. Consumers are seeking brands that walk their talk, especially in today's climate where society is desperate for steadiness and reliability.
2. Lead with personality
Now is not the time to be stuffy or overly professional. There is strength in vulnerability. Let your consumers see that you too are impacted by uncertainty and changing times. Be clear on what you stand for and demonstrate how your company is cultivating good amongst the chaos. Positive branding is easier and more real when you humanize your brand. Your customers are much more likely to relate and empathize.
3. Build a community - virtually
Lastly, take to social media and start connecting. Engage with customers, prospects, suppliers, partners, and charities that align with your values. This is your community. In challenging times, we are attracted to the idea of togetherness, even if we are social distancing. Strengthening your online community will only enhance your positive brand and your support system.
There's no denying the importance of positive branding in a climate defined by uncertainty. But by establishing who you are and what you believe in, you can acknowledge challenges and better understand your customers' pain points. By implementing a few tactics, your organization can benefit from this practice and experience success as we continue our journey through a difficult year.