I know we’ve jokingly thrown around the phrase “unprecedented times” over the past year, even going so far as to turn it into a drinking game on the Lion’s Share Marketing Podcast, but last week’s events at the Capitol presented a new challenge for marketers. Some moved to pause ads and go silent, others chose to ignore the event together, and somehow, miraculously, no single brand marketing team or agency totally screwed the pooch and cost themselves a considerable hit to their brand equity with a poor choice of words in a social media post or ad in the days after the protests-turned-riots made for an early stain on 2021.

And while not stepping in it is a worthy goal for most marketing leaders during such events, it’s worthwhile to re-examine our roles as marketing leaders during times of national significance. Far too often, marketing leaders are prone to act on behalf of their brands to battle a personal feeling of helplessness when tragedy strikes. While empathy is a core skill for any marketer, immediately moving to act by posting something or launching a new campaign will more than likely be counterproductive.

As marketing leaders, we all need to be willing to hit pause, catch our collective breaths, and ask if the fight, however noble one might perceive it to be, is really the brand’s fight. More often than not, that answer is no, and it’s wise to simply remain silent out of respect for the magnitude of current events and the power of the moment at hand while understanding that most people don’t want to see your brand weigh in on the issue like it just secured a guest spot on a cable news show.

Sometimes, on fewer occasions than most marketing leaders seem to realize, the answer is yes. In those occasions, marketing leaders must guide their brands to responses that are less centered on evoking an emotional response and are more focused on building brand loyalty. Younger generations have shown a propensity to align their loyalty with brands that share their values. But they’ll turn on you just as quick for appearing to capitalize on those values for the sake of your bottom line. That means marketing leaders need to take extra care and guide our brands to thoughtful, supportive responses.

Sometimes the best way to “seize the moment” is to simply take a moment.