Brands should take note of the US Supreme Court ruling on gay rights

As the ink dries on the certificates of same-sex marriages taking place across every US state, we are now wondering what this could mean for companies across the western world.

Which brands will grab the moment? asks Nik Govier at Unity
Which brands will grab the moment? asks Nik Govier at Unity
No longer able to hide sexual discrimination behind antiquated law, companies now need to look at the impact this will have on their corporate standpoints – and, therefore, their comms.  

The US is the world’s biggest marketplace and, as the final frontier of generalised discrimination is outlawed, even if you don’t operate there you simply can’t ignore it.

Over the past century, as anti-discrimination laws were passed, it still took brands forever to listen to voices that weren’t white, middle class, heterosexual and male.  
It cannot take the same amount of time for that same-sex voice to be heard. 

Only time will tell but, in the meantime, I would soon expect to see some notable differences in how global companies operate in the UK in relation to the gay community now they have a US safety net (which can’t in law now react badly to pro-gay stances and will become a useful test-and-learn market).

I’d also be interested to see which brands grab the moment (and we are having a moment, as seen by the outpouring of support for Caitlyn Jenner) and start to squarely – and actively – target gay couples as their primary audience.

Superficially, brands will do this for the money – to make a fast buck from the pink pound – but the prize could be so much greater.  

Those that go beyond the skin-deep – and live as well as breathe equality – will win the greater prize of securing the patronage of the liberal supporters, who are often the taste-makers and influencers of the wider market.

For years, the likes of Ben & Jerry’s have professed their love for love – whatever form it may take. And it’s never been just lip service. For example, they were one of the first to ensure their employee benefits worked the same for same-sex as well as heterosexual couples, and also lobbied for the Marriage Equality Bill UK in 2012.  
Not only did their contribution count (they were personally honoured by Stonewall), but it was reflected in their bottom line.  

Crucially, though, everything they did felt natural and true – never opportunistic or tacked on. Their beliefs permeate through to their core and this truth is what makes people love them. 

Companies such as this shouldn’t be the case study – they should be the norm. And others should be clamouring to follow suit – in fact, can they afford not to in terms of brand equity beyond just sales?

But the biggest question remains: in a country where you wear your political colours clearly on your sleeve – be you an individual, a company or a state – will team USA actually move beyond the red or blue to truly embrace the rainbow?  

Let's watch and see. 

Nik Govier is the co-founder of Unity

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