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Breaking Up With A Brand (+ protecting yourself in the future)

It’s no secret that we are in the middle of a huge, huge civil rights movement. And one of the many consequences of that is that our eyes are being opened as to the values of many brands. Consumers are looking into the values of different companies and different brands where they spend their money.

You, as an influencer might find yourself wanting to break up with a brand because your values and that brand’s values don’t align. Maybe that brand is a little too apathetic for your taste, or the brand has been outwardly, atrociously racist.

So how do you break up with a brand? What do you do? In this post, you will learn what to look for in your existing endorsement contract if you want to break up with a brand. You’ll also learn about a few things to have in place before you sign with a brand. So here we go.

Breaking Up an Existing Brand Deal

Let’s first discuss where to look if you’re thinking of breaking up with a brand you’re currently involved with. Number one, you want to look at the termination section in your existing contract. In other words, under what circumstances can a relationship be terminated? Most likely, your contract will say something about when you can terminate. But you also want to make sure and see what happens to any existing obligations if you terminate the agreement. Also, what happens to the money if you terminate?

Number two, if there’s nothing there to guide you, then think about having a conversation. It could be just a matter of you saying, “Look, I’m very passionate about X. You do not seem to feel the same way. We, as an influencer and brand, don’t make sense. I don’t see any reason to continue this relationship further.” You never know where a conversation might get you.

Protecting Yourself in Future Brand Deals

There are some things to look out for before signing your name on the dotted line in future brand deals. Ideally, you build in the ability to break up with a brand if you don’t jive with it any longer. You’re also protecting yourself from getting the axe under some unfair circumstances.

So first, again, make sure that the termination section is there to protect you. You want to understand when it’s okay for you to terminate, and understand what, if any, waiting periods apply if you want to terminate. Sometimes, for example, 30 days’ notice might be required. And then, again, you want to understand what happens to any money they paid you up front if you terminate.

Next, consider a mutual morality clause. A morality clause is something that you find in a typical endorsement contract. Even before the age of Instagram influencers, you’d see a morality clause. You think about this in the context of athletes more traditionally. What comes to mind for me? Tiger Woods and his whole cheating/ sex scandal thing. He lost $22 million in endorsements throughout the course of the year when all of that came out. It’s meant to cover scandals and “bad behavior.” But again, we could argue that it should cover “bad behavior” on the part of a brand, too. So if there’s a morality clause that speaks to your behavior, turn that right around and make it mutual. (Mutual meaning it goes both ways.)

Another, more creative option is to put in a clause that basically says:

“Hey, I, influencer, I talk on a number of things that I’m passionate about. And if there’s a topic that I have posted about or spoken about before, then you cannot terminate this agreement based on me talking about that, again.”

This idea is not the end-all-be-all because it doesn’t protect you from obviously talking about new passions, new interests. But it’s an additional protection that you might think about.

Finally, in terms of protecting yourself in the future, do your due diligence. It’s impossible to find out everything, but do your due diligence. Research a company before you sign with them. Look into what people have said about them. Snoop on Glassdoor to see what employees and workers have said about them. Look on social media, see if anyone has had issues not only with the company itself, but maybe one of its products or services. Do due diligence, do due diligence (that’s tongue twister, hmm?). Just look into a company before you sign.

So you’ve got some things to look at in your existing contracts in terms of finding out when how you can terminate under that contract and what happens if you do terminate. You can think about having those conversations with your contact at the brand if your contract is not clear. And then in the future, make sure that termination clause is there to protect you. Think about adding a mutual morality clause. Also consider that kind of more creative clause where you’re saying, “Hey, I have posted on these topics before, and if I post about them again, that can’t be grounds for terminating this agreement with me.”

So I hope that you have found this helpful in terms of breaking up with a brand and putting things in place to protect yourself before signing with a brand.