• Optimistic Thom

The Downfall of Community-Driven YQR Brands

A tough look at Regina brands and their toothless statements.

Let's get two things straight before I get into this monster of a topic where I'm almost assuredly overstepping into.

  1. These opinions are my own, as I am not in any position to represent anyone but my own voice on this topic. I absolutely do not speak for anyone who is represented in movements currently fighting injustice.

  2. In the same light, I'm an ally and do not share the same struggles and therefore can only speak from the position of solidarity, as a privileged straight white guy.

Basically, these words don't represent anyone except a single privileged view: my own.

So, let's get into why I think YQR brands are showing up to be hollow shells of progress.

Like every movement that brings forward issues of injustice, we consistently see organizations utilizing their social media platforms to jump on the bandwagon, adding their not so controversial opinion to the flood of posts.

It’s an age-old strategy. Wait until it isn’t radical to say something, put forward a message, and continue along with business as usual. I saw AT LEAST five posts from YQR brand's Instagram pages that followed the same format after #BlackoutTuesday.

“Hey everyone, we at [brand] just want to make sure we insert ourselves in the conversation so people aren’t able to say we didn’t. We don’t have any concrete reasons on how we are supporting these values we are preaching, but TRUST US, when we say they are important. We might come up with something eventually, because now, everyone is expecting us too.”

I’m paraphrasing, but you get the idea.

And listen, you might be saying I’m being too critical. Organizations coming forward and standing against injustice is important, even if it is just a statement and a promise to do better.

And to that, I suppose I see your point. Progress is progress and all that.

This article, however, is not a critic of all YQR brands; instead, I’m looking at the specific brand identity that always PREACHES building these values in our community when in reality, they care more about how many weekly Instagram impressions they get.

What Does a YQR Community-Driven Brand Even Look Like?

Community-driven brands are odd, as it's a slightly ambiguous term, but you immediately know one when you see it. Basically, they are the organizations that preach and identify with their local environment. Their founders are usually public figures (low-key influencers) in our humble Regina circles, and their brand is somewhat ingrained in our city's culture.

Lastly, they consistently preach " progressive" community values in a deafening tone.

Community-driven brands usually focus their efforts within a strictly local context because they are brought up by local supporters. Return customers are essential to these brands, so they have to ensure their business feels like a family, therefore they create a strong relationship with their customer base.

On the outside, a successful community-driven brand can appear like an over-the-top cult, essentially indoctrinating its customers, so they stay loyal to the organization.

In my opinion, I find most of these brands having no difficulty in making my eyes roll when I’m not a part of their customer base. Their marketing is jam-packed with jargon buzzwords, and many operate with an undeserved sense of superiority as if their work can be compared to the work of real charities and non-profits, where in reality, they truly only serve to benefit their own interests.

Herein lies the downfall of our YQR brands as they are failing to uphold the values they stand by and preach. They would have you think they hold all these values through flashy marketing without actually doing the work.

Basically, they talk the talk without walking the walk.

Calling out YQR Community-Driven Brands

I've thought about it, and I'm not going to name any brands specifically in this article. I'm doing this because I think anyone who knows this city can guess the ones I'm talking about and knowing, in itself, is a pretty good indicator that these brands are dropping the ball.

So to those who read this and don't know the organizations, I'm referring to, buy me a beer and I'll happily identify a couple of brands that ‘inspired’ this article.

Here is a hint, these brands in question have fantastic marketing, with consistently high-quality posts and messaging about progressive work. It's easy to buy into them and believe they are true community leaders concerning issues of justice and diversity.

This goes on until you realize that the progressive aspect of these brands abruptly ends with hiring diverse models for their photoshoots.

As I mentioned earlier, with the recent rise of powerful injustice movements across the world, all of these community-driven organizations in question released statements of support. However, when the statements were published, none of these organizations could reference one initiative they were currently pursuing to achieve the justice and equality they preached in their statements.

And that's when you realize the Instagram pages of these brands do not actually represent the state of our community in any way. Regina has major issues in mental health, racism, and, homelessness yet if you were to follow the local brands standing for these issues, you'd think these problems are far closer to being solved.

To be clear, I'm not asking these brands to fully dedicated themselves to solving these issues, but maybe understand that doing a model photoshoot with your merch and calling it a mental health campaign does jack all for anyone.

Instead, let's see some actual advocacy and understanding of the systemic issues!

The work isn't glamorous, and it's not always good news you can share on social media, but real actions can actually make a systemic difference, yet these brands seem to lack the ability to commit.

These organizations have failed in understanding that being a community-driven brand is more than just selling merchandise and owning a strong Instagram presence. It’s about taking the time and doing the work to bring up the community that made them the success they are today.

These callouts have led many community brands to be rightfully outed, as they have taken little part in any measurable action.

So now the question is, will these brands completely fail? In my opinion, no, probably not. The callouts will plateau, and life will unwaveringly move on.

However, it’s when these community brands repeatedly show the inability to act, that they create their own downfall. These YQR brands in question may prove me wrong in finally showing initiative, and I honestly hope this becomes the case. Until then, however, I believe our community owes them nothing for their continuous toothless statements in supporting any sort of progressive initiative.

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