In today’s society, promoting diversity and inclusion in all aspects of life is more important than ever. This includes the workplace culture, schools, and even in the media. Brands that fail to do so are quickly becoming outdated, and their customers are taking notice. As a result, businesses are beginning to see the value in promoting diversity and inclusion in their brand communications.
But what does it mean to promote diversity and inclusion in your brand communications? Essentially, it means creating a strategy that considers your audience’s different backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives. It also means creating inclusive content. And finally, it means implementing equitable design practices that ensure everyone has access to your brand’s message.
There are many ways to promote diversity and inclusion in your brand communications. However, it is important to note that there is no one-size-fits-all approach.
The best way to determine what will work best for your business is to consider the following factors:
In order to practice empathy and promote inclusion with diverse content, it’s important to understand the lived experiences of people who are different from you. This can’t be accomplished by a 15-minute Google search. Additionally, try to seek out opportunities to have one-on-one conversations with people from these groups so that you can better understand their perspectives. Or better yet, establish partnerships with experts in this field.
In this video from our course Working with Inclusive Images, shares the importance of knowing our brand audience through our communication efforts.
As you are working to define your audience and their needs, go beyond plain demographics and consider these questions:
- Who are you trying to reach with your brand communications?
- How are their experiences influenced by their culture and heritage?
- How can you provide a better experience for your audience with disabilities?
- Do they navigate language barriers?
- Does your messaging have biased connotations?
We must consider all of these factors when developing your strategy, as they should be reflected in your communication across the board, from your messaging to your visuals. Once you have a good understanding of the experiences of others, you can begin creating content that is inclusive and respectful of all people.
Your Brand Message
When creating content and messaging, brands don’t look to make biased assumptions on purpose, but a lack of research, resources, and cultural understanding has generated a lot of failed attempts for inclusion and diversity. Few rogue brands have clearly cut corners to appear woke or to cross off a diversity checklist, and you now see a community backlash calling them out.
Anytime we create a marketing campaign, a social media post, print, videos, or illustrations, we have to form an understanding of how our audience will connect with that content.
We need to have processes in place to dig deep into understanding our audience beyond simple demographics. Take the time to define and understand their aspirations, wants, desires, culture, heritage, and communication needs.
As you define your message, here are some things to consider:
- What stories are you telling your audience?
- Is it inclusive and void of bias?
- Does it consider your audience’s different backgrounds, heritage, culture, experiences, and perspectives?
- Have we confirmed with trusted experts in the field about our message?
Checking for diversity and inclusion shouldn’t fall to one person—a diverse team should be in place so that various voices are represented in your messaging. By taking these steps, you can ensure that your content is truly inclusive.
Incorporating diversity and inclusion in your brand communication isn’t just about the words you use—it’s also about the visuals you choose to relay your message. People are more likely to engage with brands that use diverse imagery as this makes us feel seen, heard, and understood. To connect with a broad audience it’s important to include people of all ages, races, genders, abilities, and sizes in your visuals.
It’s human nature to want to feel seen, heard, valued, and most importantly, that we belong.
Using inclusive images isn’t a trend or filling a checklist. It’s about the profound significance it has on humanity. When we feel represented, we feel seen.
As you work with design and inclusive images, here are some things to consider:
- Does your design reflect the diversity of your audience?
- Do your colors align with their heritage and culture?
- Are there any barriers that could prevent someone from accessing your message (e.g., language barriers)?
- Do these visuals represent your internal and external brand culture?
- Is there any bias behind the visuals?
We cover a deeper dive on Working with Inclusive Images in our LinkedIn Learning course.
By taking the time to consider these factors, you can develop a brand communication strategy that promotes diversity and inclusion while also resonating with your target audience. Whatever you do, never Photoshop people for the sake of inclusion and diversity.
The importance of promoting diversity and inclusion in brand communications cannot be overstated. Consumers are increasingly rejecting brands that fail to do so in today’s society. As a result, businesses are beginning to see the value in creating strategies considering their audiences’ different backgrounds, experiences, cultures, and perspectives. By developing an inclusive strategy, you can ensure your business is relevant to your communities and not exclusive to some.