Lessons from Gap: Tying your brand to social causes and values

The clothing chain’s online presence promotes more than clothing and accessories. Take a look at how meaningful stances can enhance your public profile and engage the public.

Check out the social media pages of your favorite brands.

It’s likely you’ll find everything it takes to achieve social success: promotions and special offers, insider photos of new product lines, people enjoying said products, and a lot of other information relating to upcoming events and company news. It’s a standard formula that most brand managers employ online.

What about brands going above and beyond to promote company values that benefit society as a whole? It’s possible, and some brands—like Gap Inc.—have already taken steps to make it happen.

Want yours to be one of those brands, to stand up for something different? Take a look at how Gap Inc. promotes its brand values, and follow the tips listed below for taking similar steps with your brand’s online presence:

What Gap does

Feminism, equal pay, and progressiveness: These are values that Gap Inc. holds close to its heart. The proof is in the company’s social media posts.

In recent days, the brand has supported the #heforshe campaign, created and backed by the United Nations following Emma Watson’s now-famous viral speech in front of the UN relating to the need for true gender equality. Posts have featured famous celebrities, such as Jared Leto, shown below.

Taking it a step further, the company has promoted its commitment to providing equal opportunities for all genders through partnerships and summits, such as this one:

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Other posts have included a #letsdomore campaign that highlights the 77 cents women make on average for each whole dollar men make in the workplace. The company highlights statistics that demonstrate the brand’s commitment to doing more, including that 73 percent of Gap employees are women who are paid according to experience and value, not gender.

Recently, it would seem as though the company has shifted its social media marketing completely to focus on these issues rather than on selling its wares, as is evident in the following Facebook posts:

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(function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) return; js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id; js.src = “//connect.facebook.net/en_US/all.js#xfbml=1”; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs); }(document, ‘script’, ‘facebook-jssdk’));

Gap Inc. is setting a new social media standard. Is your organization ready to do the same?

Why values matter

More than ever before, people around the world are raising their voices. They are fervently supportive of causes that matter to them and look for ways to align themselves with companies and brands that share similar values. It’s not about the logo on clothing anymore, nor the status associated with owning certain products; it’s about something deeper.

This is where Gap Inc. is ahead of the game. The company has paid attention to what’s happening in the world and has acted accordingly. In doing so, it has become known for something more than its profits and has built a following based around something that matters.

Supporting brands that share innate beliefs, views, and values gives consumers a voice that they might have a hard time finding elsewhere. It’s a simple truth that can be used to increase your marketing efforts. Not sure how to make it happen? Keep reading.

How to promote your company’s values

1. Decide what matters

Your company may support many causes. You probably promote company values in your mission and vision statements and on your website. But is that where it stops?

Pick one value that really stands out; this sales management company proudly stands behind and supports Native American heritage. If you’re not sure where to start, look at what’s going on in the world, read the news and think about something you’d like your brand to support. It could be controversial, but it doesn’t have to be. Whatever you decide, be ready to stand behind it 100 percent; that’s what your next campaign will be all about.

Poll your employees, think about what you want your brand’s mission to be, and make a decision.

2. Change your focus

From there, look for ways to change the focus of your standard social media activities. Make a statement or two introducing your new project, and gauge the responses of your followers.

Then, look at your traditional online activities through a new lens. Look for ways to promote your cause in your blog and share the posts. Watch for opportunities to give back, and share those in your social media feeds. Look at social media as an opportunity to be part of something bigger.

3. Start a campaign

Once your change in focus has taken hold, look for ways to start or join a campaign, as Gap Inc. did with #heforshe. Send email blasts and announce your new campaign on your pages. Start a contest to get your followers involved and to spread your message. Go big, go all the way, follow through 100 percent.

There’s still a place for traditional social media marketing, but it’s changing; regular old marketing is becoming stale. To stay ahead of the game, look for ways to share your company’s values. In doing so, you’ll gain new followers who will be loyal and committed to supporting not only that cause, but your brand as well.

Ready to get started? Pick a cause, and start working.

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