As a founder, or anyone who cares deeply about the business you work for, your values will be tested. A great example of this is when the principles guiding you and your brand collide with the messy real world.
The recent debate around sweeteners is a case in point for Dash. When the World Health Organization reported in May that consuming sweeteners can lead to a range of worrying health conditions from diabetes to heart problems, it was a challenge, as well as an opportunity, to ensure we acted in the right way.
As a brand we had options. We could have made a lot of noise in a short space of time, then gone back to business as usual. We could have pushed until we met resistance and then backed down. But none of these options would have reflected a stance which has been part of our brand’s foundations since its inception.
At Dash, we’ve been steadfast in our commitment to raise awareness about the health risks of sweeteners, precisely because we’ve never included sweeteners or sugar in our beverages. We knew our involvement in steering the debate wouldn’t be just a reactionary move.
As a team, we had (and still have) daily discussions about sweeteners, looking at how to keep the conversation front of mind with the public and our industry. Our sales team has even been sending copies of Ultra Processed People by Chris Van Tulleken (a book that highlights the health issues posed by sweeteners), to dozens of retail buyers (excellent initiative Katie!).
In the press, our willingness to take a firm stance led to widespread interest, from the Financial Times to the Huffington Post. Of course, it all started here: thought leadership on sweeteners in The Grocer created a platform for us to speak directly to industry.
It wasn’t always smooth sailing. Some people requested that we back down. But as a brand you sometimes need to accept the consequences of sticking up for what you believe in.
We believe in using our platform to educate people about sweeteners and in fostering a space for unbiased research.
The conversation around sweeteners has moved on significantly, but much remains to be done. Helping consumers see through health-washing claims and make informed choices about their wellbeing is a journey, not a destination, as it is for any brand on the major topics close to their heart. Staying true to your values on that journey is its own reward.