The way companies brand themselves is changing. Now, more than ever, brands must be intentional about their voice, incorporating diversity and inclusion in their brand message. The Black Lives Matter movement has gained steam and media attention, particularly in 2020, to the point of becoming a worldwide movement. The aim of the movement is to dismantle institutionalized racism. When companies are inclusive, they help deconstruct oppressive regimes and unjust societal norms. For this reason, inclusivity branding is becoming universal.
Inclusive branding embraces diversity by featuring voices and stories that different groups can identify with. But inclusion and diversity, though linked, are not synonymous. In a post on Twitter, Rita Mitjans, chief diversity and responsibility officer of ADP (Automatic Data Processing Inc) started a conversation that sparked much-needed engagement around the nuances of inclusion and diversity. She continued the conversation on ADP’s website, stating: “Diversity focuses on the makeup of your workforce — demographics such as gender, race/ethnicity, age, sexual orientation, veteran status, just to name a few, and inclusion is a measure of culture that enables diversity to thrive. Inclusion requires that everyone’s contributions be valued.”
It’s important we understand the differences in inclusion and diversity, and also how they relate. From there, we can use these two pillars of social justice as guides that influence and inspire how we brand ourselves.
Here Are Three Reasons You Need to Be Intentionally Inclusive with Your Branding
- You’ll have a bigger impact. When a company intentionally brands themselves to reflect that they are inclusive, they open their doors to a wider audience. According to analysis from Pew Research in 2020, two-thirds of American adults support the Black Lives Matter movement, including 86% of Blacks, approximately 75% of Hispanics and Asians, and 60% of Whites. These numbers show us how much the Black Lives Matter movement has taken on importance throughout the United States and beyond.
There have been protests and gatherings in support of the movement around the world. There is a clear message going out that this is the time for racial injustice to be fought head-on.
- Your audience is expecting you to be intentional. This includes addressing matters that are pressing and relevant. It’s no longer business as usual. It is now widely accepted that fighting racial injustice is everyone’s responsibility.
Consumers are expecting the companies they buy from to stand for something bigger than their pockets. They’re now choosing to patronize businesses that have strong purposeful missions. People are interested in doing business with companies that share similar values.
- It’s a reflection of your values. In the Brandview Framework, we outlined the five pillars of a strong brand: Values, Vision, Visual Identity, Voice, and Village.
Values are about what you stand for as a company and what value you bring to the marketplace. What you stand for, what matters most, is the strongest driving force for any business. when you’re intentional about standing for inclusion and diversity, your values are reflected in your branding messages.
So, How Can You Be Intentional with Your Branding?
Here are four powerful ways to intentionally brand your business with inclusion and diversity in mind.
- Be guided by your vision and stay consistent with your voice. With intentional voice-branding, your most important focus is consistency. Making sure that the tone, style, and content of your messages match, not only your vision, but your commitment to diversity and inclusion. The messages that you share should visually and verbally reflect the diverse audience you strive to serve.
- Listen intentionally. Listening with intention is about being open to your audience, paying close attention to their needs, feedback, and common communication patterns. It’s also about having an intentional approach to your messaging so that your voice reflects the diversity you stand for.
- Assess and reassess. As with all branding efforts, nothing is ever done that you don’t go back and assess and reassess consistently. In fact, some branding teams even maintain a reassessment schedule they follow.
- Have a clear, distinguishable voice and message. You do this by making sure that your voice is distinct and distinguishable from others, consistently. If you stand for inclusion, you need to demonstrate this repeatedly. You do not want to appear to be inauthentic. Instead, you need to consistently show this is more than you following a trend. It is about the bigger vision you have for your brand, the customers you serve, and the world at large.
Inclusive branding has a powerful impact on your audience. It also sets you apart and shows that you stand for something more than just profit. Individuals and organizations now have an opportunity to take a stand for what is right and help dismantle systemic racism. You can now use your branding as a platform for sharing your core marketing messages and for helping to bring about change.