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By The Pollack Group

Last month, the agency joined’s popular Twitter Chat, #BizHeroes, to talk about empathic branding around the holidays. That being said, branding with empathy shouldn’t stop after the holidays are over. In fact, now that the new year is here, it is a perfect time to start thinking about how brands fit into the Empathy Economy.

The 2019 Edelman’s Trust Barometer revealed a major shift in trust:

“The 2019 Edelman Trust Barometer reveals that trust has changed profoundly in the past year—people have shifted their trust to the relationships within their control, most notably their employers. Globally, 75 percent of people trust “my employer” to do what is right…”

In short, people are gravitating more and more toward companies with clearly defined morals. These companies are the ones who we want to work for, and who we want to buy from. As a brand, morals are demonstrated not only in news-worthy actions, but also in the language and imagery a brand chooses to associate itself with. Consumers want to know that a brand is interested in more than its bottom line.

Of course, many brands have caught on to the idea of showing consumers they care. So how do they show that and how do they stand out from the rest? Simple: they actually care. Truly conscious advertising with empathy and inclusivity is almost always original, and the finished product is genuine and  stands out for that reason alone. This creates real trust and brand loyalty.

For example, conscious advertising means acknowledging that the holidays can be a stressful time. It’s acknowledging that not everyone has a sweetheart on Valentine’s Day or a parent on Mother’s or Father’s Day. It’s acknowledging that your target market is still a market of people, most of whom are not living the cookie-cutter lifestyle often depicted in advertisements.

None of this means that branding and advertising should be somber. It simply means being more inclusive in advertising and messaging as well as avoiding language and imagery that sets high expectations on your consumers. It means avoiding anything that might be exclusionary, even within your target market. Most importantly, acknowledgement of diversity should be evident in a brand’s storytelling. Knowing your target audience means taking account for human variables in that audience. This means telling stories that truly depict your audience as real people and not just marketing personas.

January is about taking inventory of last year’s wins and losses and making sure we are setting the new year on the path to a better world. If your brand touches on that theme without a sales pitch, you’re doing it right.