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How To Avoid the Negative Impact that Politics Play in Marketing

by Nick Maus

Politics and Social Media The Role They Play in Marketing (or Ruining) Your Brand Charlotte NC Pinckney Marketing.png

In “Why Google is Like High School All Over Again” we focused on brand reputation online. Now, I want to take a few minutes and dive into another aspect of this. Your reputation and how your market views your brand are key factors in your success. 

These rules can apply to a business of any size, or even your own personal branding. Below are the top 2 ways to avoid a negative brand image if/when you’re marketing these views.

A Picture is Worth 1,000 Words

Promoting your personal or corporate brand is required in this digital age. There are several facets to this but a big one people often give little consideration to is the use of the images that represent their brand.

We have all heard the stories of employees who have been let go, had job offers retracted, or even whole companies that are deemed “insensitive and intolerant” because of their images on social media.

It seems like every few months someone’s career is being tarnished or destroyed because of an image they post on social media in a compromising situation (hunting endangered animals as trophies, being under the influence in public, etc.)

These are extreme examples but let’s look at it from another angle. I won’t give you the answer to this one, but compare the two images of a retail store. Ask yourself a few questions:

What does the image say about the company? How does it make me feel? What kind of experience can I expect? Would I buy from them?

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These are the questions your customers are asking themselves, sometimes without even realizing they’re doing it. It’s your first impression, and the digital world can be unforgiving, to say the least.

So, next time you decide to post a picture on Facebook, choose your professional headshot for LinkedIn, or use an image to represent your business; stop and ask yourself what the image really says about you.

Good Trump, Bad Trump

I don’t know if I am just noticing it more, or if there truly is more tension in our country due to politics. 

Either way, the message is still the same and it’s an easy one.

Politics do not belong in business. Every time a company publicly takes a political stance they begin losing market share and revenue declines taking years to recover.

Now, I’m not saying you can’t have political opinions but this is a topic that needs to be kept close to the chest or you need to be prepared for the heat that comes after. Below are a few examples (and per my own advice, I am not taking a stance on either of these situations):


Several years ago, Chick-fil-A publicly announced they do not support same sex marriage. This resulted in a boycott by many communities and supporters of the same sex community.

Chick-fil-A has a great product, but due to that stance alone, potential customers might drive to a lesser quality fast food chain based solely on the premise that they do not want to support a company that does not support their personal views. 

On the other hand, some customers might go to Chick-fil-A more often, because they respect the stance. Either way, its another dimension that Chick-fil-A now has to deal with.


For any of you that were not living in the great state of North Carolina last year (like myself), you may not have heard about a bill that made NC famous for something other than basketball and barbecue, HB-2.

Long story short, HB-2 was a controversial bathroom law that addressed concerns about  transgender people using government-run bathrooms corresponding to the gender with which they identify.

Most companies stayed out of it but Target went the other route.

They publicly took a stance on the issue and their market share tanked almost immediately with a significant portion of their customer base boycotting the company.

Shortly after the Target situation, I read an article about a survey that was conducted where they interviewed a group of people about how these issues should be handled from the public eye.

There was one common statement made by almost every participant, “I would rather not know what their political views are.”

These two examples (along with countless others) have created PR nightmares and revenue loss for companies. Where you may gain favoritism with a small group, you are going to lose a much larger customer base driving them to your competitors. 

I remember having a conversation with a former manager about why we chose not to hire a candidate for an open position in the company. I’ll never forget what he told me. “It doesn’t matter how qualified you are if no one likes you.” Doesn’t that go the same for the companies we choose to give our business? Tread carefully!

Join the conversation! Comment below with your stance on companies taking a stance! As a marketer, do you think they should voice their political opinion?