We’ve all heard it: “Now more than ever, it’s important to showcase diversity.” That mindset, however, is singularly flawed, as promoting our differences and diversity has always been a key component of successful creative content.
But 54% of consumers don’t feel fully culturally represented in online advertising, and 71% of consumers expect brands to promote diversity and inclusion in their advertising, according to a recent Facebook Business study.
So how can you effectively integrate inclusivity into your creative? Recognize the various types of diversity, make sure your alliance speaks true to you and your company’s values and beliefs, spend time researching, and set realistic expectations.
Diversity comes in all shapes and sizes. Diversity is an enormous word -- not in length, but in definition. It means race, gender, religion, sexuality and more. Within those categories, there is a multitude of ways tht people identify and view themselves in society.
However, diversity goes far beyond those now-normalized tropes, especially in the marketing and advertising sphere. Diversity includes a consumer's outlook on life and what they value in their personal and social lives -- and it’s our job to dig into that. By sticking to cliched, outdated ideas of how consumers look, act and think, creative content actually ends up missing the vast majority of people.
Do your research. By this, I mean not only researching your audience, what they believe in, what resonates with them, etc., but research your partner agencies. Do they share your values? Do they have experience in reaching your diverse audience?
Some agencies believe in the power of difference -- that there is real power in what makes people different: backgrounds, cultures and experiences. They can harness this thought and forge connections with these hidden or often ignored consumers, whom we call “ConsumerX” —which is, in fact, a group with buying power north of $7 trillion. Their influencers are ready to be unleashed on behalf of brands that connect with them authentically.
Be genuine. It’s easy for companies to say they promote diversity, when in putting words and art into action is another thing.
This is clear in creative content during Pride Month every June. Companies “rainbow wash” (the use of the rainbow symbol or its colors by companies and brands to indicate solidarity with Pride, whether their own policies and actions benefit LGBTQ+ people or not) their content to show allyship with the LGBTQ community. Throughout the rest of the year, however, few companies continue to recognize this community, donate to programs helping their LGBTQ consumer, or allow for true inclusion in their product or service.
Creative content should reflect the true beliefs of the company, not just the content developed to monetize various movements. People’s differences should be appreciated and reflected all the time, not only when society promotes it.
Set realistic expectations. Consumers can sniff out inauthentic content and, in today’s age, have the means to publicly address these companies and their values.
Take your time to harness the power of difference and do your research. Look internally at your organization and determine what you stand for and believe in, find a marketing and creative agency that aligns and has the tools to reach this audience, and begin to develop a plan of action to incorporate this audience into your everyday materials.
Most importantly, be sure to set realistic expectations; you’ll eventually be met with realistic outcomes.
True change like this takes time. That’s because diversity, at the end of the day, is realistic.