Hate Speech and Branding

’Hate speech’ and ’branding’ hardly seem connected concepts. Yet there are two important ways that they come together.


One of the widely agreed attributes of a brand is that it should be purposeful over and beyond its narrow functional performance. For example, sports clothing brand, Patagonia’s purpose is ‘to use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.’ Mere words? I’d say not, in that the purpose inspires the way the company thinks and behaves and in its attempt to influence others. If a brand purpose is truly lived inside an organization it can be a powerful tool for engaging audiences in issues that matter in society – such as those that contribute to hate speech.


At our event on September 7th, we will also start work on building the brand for an Amsterdam based charity (NGO) that tackles hate speech: Radio Benevolencija Humanitarian Tools Foundation. Having worked for a number of charities, UNICEF, WWF and Greenpeace International, often the problem is in explaining concisely and engagingly their purpose.

That’s our challenge here: how to communicate the essence of Radio Benevolencija.

What this organization exists to do is to get people to resist the incitement of others and to counteract fake news and rumours. (From a branding perspective that’s a difficult idea to get across because it is about resisting something).

The way Radio Benevolencija does this is through the creation of soap operas that encourage people to better understand the thinking and actions of other groups and to try to overcome a sense of difference.

Much of Radio Benevolencija’s work has been in countries where there has been extreme violence (such as Rwanda, Burundi and DR Congo), but they would argue extreme violence is only the end of a continuum that results from scapegoating and discrimination. In Western societies, we can also see the impact of hate speech and the aim of Radio Benevolencija now is to try and transfer its African experience. However, it is not easy to convince audiences and donors in Europe that this experience can be applied in developed societies where the threat of violence seems more removed.

On September 7th we will help Radio Benevolencija define a concise and engaging purpose and help position it to meet its goals.

  • Listen to an example or the brand’s work in Rwanda here.
  • And you can sign up for the 2017 Medinge Autumn Meeting in Oslo here.
Nicholas IndHate Speech and Branding

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