Building and safeguarding your brand in the Era of Cancel Culture

In today's dynamic business landscape, building a brand is not just about creating an appealing logo or crafting a catchy slogan. It's a multifaceted journey that involves defining your brand strategy, developing a distinct identity, and consistently telling your business's story to the world. This process, known as brand building, is crucial for enhancing brand recognition, promoting products or services, and establishing connections with your target audience.

What is Brand Building?

Brand building is the ongoing process of promoting your brand, aiming to increase brand recognition, advertise products or services, and connect with your audience in their daily lives. Think of iconic brands like Nike or McDonald's – their corporate brand images are the result of years of meticulous marketing campaigns.

However, building a brand is not a one-time effort. It's an evolving process that requires continuous adaptation to the changing business landscape. In the age of social media and 'cancel culture,' protecting your brand has become more challenging yet essential.

Protecting your brand in the age of Cancel Culture

In recent years, 'cancel culture' has gained prominence, fueled by the influence of social media. This phenomenon involves withdrawing support for a person or business based on their opinions or behavior. For brands, engaging in controversial issues can lead to significant damage, with potential consequences like loss of customers and declining stock value.

The Cancel Culture controversy in marketing: Many brands traditionally refrained from engaging in politics to avoid alienating portions of their customer base. However, with the rise of cancel culture, even seemingly neutral actions can provoke backlash. For instance, Bud Light's use of a transgender spokesperson led to a substantial drop in Anheuser Busch InBev's stock value.

Consumer response to brand stances: Over 60% of customers worldwide report that they would avoid doing business with a company based on its stance on a social or political issue. Boycotting has become a common response, highlighting the need for brands to navigate this landscape carefully.

How to build your brand for a volatile future

Building a robust brand identity is more critical than ever in today's competitive business environment. Here are five steps to help you build a brand with a strong identity:

  • Define your brand’s Values and Mission: Clarify your brand's purpose, core beliefs, and principles. Identify your Unique Value Proposition and how your product or service benefits customers.
  • Conduct market research: Understand your target audience's preferences, behaviors, and needs through surveys, focus groups, or social media analytics.
  • Develop a unique brand voice and visual identity: Craft a consistent brand voice reflecting your personality, values, and mission. Create a visually appealing identity with a cohesive logo, color palette, and typography.
  • Consistently communicate your brand: Maintain consistency in messaging across all channels, including websites, social media, advertising, and packaging.
  • Monitor and adapt your brand strategy: Regularly assess how your brand is perceived and make necessary adjustments to stay relevant.

Dos and Don’ts of Building a Brand in the Age of Cancel Culture

To navigate the challenges posed by cancel culture, here are some essential tips:


  • Research and understand your audience: Learn about your target audience's values and beliefs to align your brand messaging appropriately.
  • Stay informed about social Issues: Acknowledge and understand social issues to avoid appearing out of touch with your audience.
  • Take responsibility and apologize sincerely: Acknowledge mistakes and offer sincere apologies when necessary, demonstrating a commitment to improvement.
  • Avoid offensive or insensitive behavior: Educate your team on what is considered offensive and ensure your brand is inclusive and respectful.
  • Prioritize Diversity and Inclusion: Actively seek diverse perspectives and voices to create a more positive and inclusive brand image.


  • Ignore social issues or current events: Ignoring these topics can make your brand seem out of touch or insensitive.
  • Engage in offensive behavior: Offensive or insensitive actions can quickly lead to brand cancellation.

What to Do if Your Brand is Cancelled?

If your brand faces the threat of cancellation, transparency and humility are key. Respond directly to claims, apologize sincerely, and follow up with real progress or action. Rebuilding your brand requires genuine remorse and a commitment to change.

Tips to navigate Cancel Culture and protect your business

  1. Understand Cancel Culture: Recognize cancel culture as a social boycott stemming from perceived violations of social norms and values.
  2. Commit to being uncancellable: Refuse to be canceled and create an environment within your team that aligns with your company's values.
  3. Prioritize physiological and safety needs: Support your employees' mental health and address safety concerns arising from cancel culture.
  4. Maintain business vontinuity and Crisis Management plans: Be prepared to adapt and respond quickly to emerging crises, ensuring operational continuity.
  5. Listen before you speak: Engage with stakeholders to fully understand a situation before responding, avoiding hasty and regrettable actions.
  6. Apologize authentically when appropriate: Distinguish genuine harm from online mob reactions and offer heartfelt apologies when warranted.
  7. Designate communication channels: Centralize communications to ensure clarity and consistency in conveying your brand's goals.

While customers increasingly expect brands to take a position on societal issues, it's crucial to approach this with authenticity. Avoid using social concerns as mere marketing gimmicks, and be prepared to back your brand's stance with genuine action. Building a brand and navigating cancel culture require strategic planning, ongoing adaptation, and a commitment to transparency and inclusivity.

If your organization needs assistance in brand building or is facing the threat of cancellation, consider reaching out to Purpose Communications for expert PR services. We're here to help you navigate the complex landscape of brand building and protection in today's ever-changing environment.