Promoting Diversity and Inclusion in Brand Communications

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.

How to Promote Diversity and Inclusion in 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:

Your Audience 

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. 

Your Designs 

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.

About the Author

Nicte Cuevas, Principal of Nicte Creative Design, empowers mission-driven businesses through strategic design & branding. Nicte has applied this when working with Adobe Spark and Twitter Business, LinkedIn Learning, Dogs on Deployment and Purina, Girl Scouts, The Houston Zoo and The Contemporary Arts Museum. Her excellence in communication design & marketing has been recognized by multiple national / international awards, including a coveted feature in Graphic Design USA's People to Watch.

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