During this time of year, many brands are creating and finalizing their Heritage Month campaigns.
While we love to see brands honor things like AAPI Heritage Month, Black History Month, Hispanic Heritage Month, Native American Heritage Month, Pride Month, and Women’s History Month, we just want to implore you to think beyond the month or day you are honoring.
Many brands amp up their inclusion focus during heritage months, but their efforts dissipate the rest of the year. Doing so can negatively influence your brand perception and leave your audience wondering if you truly care. To be truly inclusive, inclusion should be relevant throughout the year.
How do you do that? Here are 5 ways to create a more inclusive brand in 2024:
5 Ways to create a more inclusive brand
1. Create a Strategic Plan for Diversity and Inclusion
Rather than plan a single month or day, develop a strategic plan outlining your goals and objectives regarding diversity and cultural inclusion for the entire year. This should be a clear plan with action steps everyone in your organization can follow. As you create this plan, remember that a truly inclusive brand considers representation beyond cultural background. Consider communities that are often left out of the conversation around diversity and inclusion. For example, our disabled communities are frequently underrepresented or forgotten about altogether.
To get started, consider some of these questions:
What are the key areas you want to focus on?
How do you want to reach out to diverse audiences?
What communities are represented by our customers and audience?
Do you need to consult with experts in the community for cultural accuracy?
Do your visual assets make these communities feel seen, heard, and understood?
Are your visual assets inclusive to disabled communities without causing ableism perceptions?
How do their culture and heritage influence their experiences?
Do your brand colors hold a cultural significance?
What is your implementation timeline, and who is responsible for what?
Engaging with diverse communities isn’t a one-and-done thing. By creating a strategic plan, you can focus on building genuine connections that last.
2. Set Verification Procedures
We have seen it time and time again, A well-known brand with a huge marketing budget launches a campaign aimed at a diverse audience that completely misses the mark. Somehow in all their prep and planning, they failed to validate cultural or diversity accuracy. The result is negative brand perception and ultimately lost sales.
Here’s what you can consider:
- Where are you pulling your information from? Is it a legitimate website that provides accurate information?
- Are you cross-checking across other information to verify?
- Do you have a team or trusted experts you can reach out to for verification?
3. Partner with Experts
Before you even start planning a Heritage Day campaign, consider who you might need to partner with to ensure you are putting together something that is representative of the culture you want to honor. It might be an expert on your team or it might mean hiring an expert from outside your organization. Collaborating with experts, cultural organizations, and community leaders, can amplify your brand’s message, reach new audiences, and build trust.
4. Get Intentional About Visual Communication
The graphics you use to represent your organization are just as important as the words you use when communicating your brand’s values of diversity and inclusion. Work to incorporate people of all ages, races, genders, abilities, and body types in your images throughout the year. Diversifying your images only at certain times a year feels disingenuous and shows your audience you don’t value diversity.
Many of our clients struggle with finding the right content to use, especially when working with stock content. And while some images may appear to represent a diverse community, there are body language cues that are big red flags.
In this YouTube video, we provide deep insight into what to look for when you are working with visuals.
We’ll show you:
- Practical ways to build an inclusive stock library
- How to look for body language cues
- Ways to check for keyword stuffing
- How to avoid biased images that appear at the top of a search
5. Don’t Try to Do It All
As you work through your strategic plan, remember to consider your team’s capacity and what feels true to your brand voice. Perhaps you shouldn’t create content for Black History Month but instead, work with black business-owned companies throughout the year and find ways to partner to give back to communities of color.
Creating an inclusive brand takes hard work and a consistent investment throughout the whole year, not just on heritage month or days. And while building a strategy for using inclusive content is crucial, it’s equally important that supporting these communities is built into your brand ethos. When inclusivity is the very nature of your brand, your efforts will feel natural and authentic instead of forced.
We’ve included some additional resources to help you get started: