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Hey! You’re #Cancelled: How Cancel Culture Affects Your Brand Image

Online cancel culture is when someone gets “cancelled” on social media websites like Twitter and Tumblr. When someone does a “call-out post,” a bunch of people could start dogpiling on the target and eventually conclude that doing business with them is not morally correct. The target would then be ostracized from a group of people and have their reputation and bottom line affected in a negative way.

People participate in cancel culture and call-out posts for a variety of reasons. For one, it gives them more social status. According to research published by the Association for Psychological Science, it was found that one’s sociometric status has more of an impact when it comes to their sense of well-being compared to socioeconomic status. Sociometric status refers to the respect and admiration of one’s peers.

Another reason why cancel culture is so prevalent is because it can offer a quick increase in one’s social rank. According to a study on public discourse, it was found that people use moral grandstanding as a means to gain social status. Moral grandstanding refers to looking morally sound and virtuous for the sake of promoting oneself.

You might be thinking, “Why should I care?” and “That’s just the internet.” However, what if we told you that cancel culture actually has an impact on your brand image?

Now that we have your attention, we want you to know just how important it is when dealing with incidents that affect your brand image.


Angry emojis boycotting

Let’s take a look at brands like Equinox and SoulCycle. These are fitness companies that are used on the regular by people in the U.S. The owner of these two brands is a man named Stephen Ross, who got involved in hosting a fundraiser for the U.S. president’s re-election campaign.

When people found out about this and made the connection between the owner and the fitness brands, they went on Twitter to express their outrage. On the social media platform, people tweeted out how they were going to boycott the fitness centres. Meanwhile, people who already had gym memberships threatened to cancel them in a form of protest.

The PR folks over at Equinox and SoulCycle had to do damage control. In response to the backlash and the spam of comments that the social media accounts were getting, both brands issued similar statements.

The statements emphasized how the money that the fitness memberships generated was not used for funding politicians. It also mentioned how Ross was a “passive investor” and not involved in managing the businesses of Equinox and SoulCycle.

Equinox’s statement, which was issued over on Instagram, had over 9,000 likes with numerous commentators stating their disappointment in the brand at the time of writing this post. The statement was then deleted from the social media platform. Over on SoulCycle’s Instagram post, there are over 19,000 likes along with similar sentiments.


Right versus wrong

Whenever a brand gets “cancelled,” it looks bad and gives it a bad reputation among those who may not even have heard about it in the first place. How a brand decides to respond to the backlash depends on its core values, how being disliked affects its bottom line, and its customer base.

Despite what cancel culture entails, there is nuance when it comes to the impact of it on business. Let’s take a look at the #GrabYourWallet movement. This was a movement against items that had the U.S. president’s brand on them. In October 2016, the movement’s founder, Shannon Coulter, was able to successfully force even a big brand like Nordstrom to stop selling president-branded items.

As a brand owner, you must take the prevalence of cancel culture into account. Find Your Audience has worked with clients across the globe and found success when it comes to brand image management.

To make sure that your brand is being represented well on social media, give the Find Your Audience team a call at 647-479-0688. You can also email us at

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