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Colin Kaepernick

Photo by Nike Inc.

A brand statement on social issues that impact their consumers is risky, but worth it when done strategically. While taking a stance may alienate some, staying silent can drive their core fan base to a competitor.

Nike moved the culture forward by choosing Colin Kaepernick to represent the 30th anniversary of their “Just Do It” campaign. With innovation, impact and diversity as their core values, it was a strategic decision from a brand that has always been bold and rebellious.

Kaepernick started the take a knee peaceful protest to raise awareness of police brutality against unarmed black men, and it sparked a national debate that divided the country. While Nike faced backlash for publicly endorsing Kaepernick, the brand made it clear that they believe in something greater than them.

In the age of authenticity and transparency, consumers want to ensure that the brands they spend their hard-earned money on actually care. And as an influencer, you should seek to work with brands that see you as more than just dollar signs.

Here are three takeaways you can learn from this brilliant partnership to help you grow your influence:

Choose brands with similar values 

If you read through Nike’s mission statement and core values, you’ll see how supporting Kaepernick makes sense. Nike believes in expanding human potential, and Kap’s protest advocates for human rights.

Just as there is synergy between both brands, the companies that you work with as an influencer should align with your values. Your followers look to you for your true opinion, so it’s important to be strategic about the brands that you collaborate with. Do some research on companies you’re considering working with. Read through the “ABOUT” section on their website, and see if what they claim is accurate. Also, check to see if they have faced any alarming controversy in the past before you align your reputation with them.

Move in silence

Nike has been endorsing Kaepernick since 2011 but has been mainly silent during the peaceful protests. While opposers have shifted the direction of the protests to make it about the American flag and veterans, Nike has been plotting their 30th-anniversary campaign.

Similarly, sometimes you should keep your projects hidden so they don’t get tainted by other people’s opinions. Make a plan, do the work and then present it to the world.

Only make moves when your heart is in it

Echoing the Notorious B.I.G., it’s crucial to only accept brand partnerships that your heart is in. Just because they are paying you doesn’t mean it’s the right opportunity. If your intuition is telling you that something isn’t a good fit, or if you see red flags gracefully decline. Following the advice in the Kaepernick x Nike ad, believe in something even if that means sacrificing everything.

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