Introduction

In an age defined by populism and rage, brands are increasingly drawn into socio-political debates. Rather than pushing out information to protect their brand equity, businesses have to reverse their thinking - and remember that the audience cares far more about their own reputation than any company's.

Qualitative research is ideally suited to navigate this landscape, if it focuses on how rather than what people think. This paper outlines a framework to apply when looking at issues impacting brands, and how this can translate into more effective strategies.

From the unsayable to the everyday

"Humans have a limited ability to cope with people behaving in ways that depart from shared standards. When unwritten rules are violated over and over, Daniel Patrick Moynihan observed, societies have a tendency to 'define deviancy down' - to shift the standard. What was once seen as abnormal becomes normal" (Levitsky and Ziblatt, 2018: p.199)