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Diversity isn’t a buzzword: Why inclusive marketing is crucial for today’s brands

In today’s world, diversity is no longer just a buzzword – it’s a reality. As a marketer, it’s important to recognize this and create campaigns that reflect the diverse communities we live in. It’s not just the right thing to do—it makes good business sense. Studies have shown that consumers are more likely to support brands that value diversity and inclusion. In fact, recent research from Deloitte indicates that individuals between 18 to 25 years old are particularly perceptive of inclusive advertising when making purchasing decisions.

But let’s face it, creating an inclusive marketing campaign is easier said than done. It can be fraught with issues, especially if you’re not aware of the common mistakes advertisers make when trying to advertise to more diverse audiences. We’re here to help. In this article, we’ll provide you with practical strategies for creating campaigns that are compelling, effective, and authentic. Whether you’re a seasoned marketer or just starting out, we’ve got you covered. 

How to market without marginalizing

Understanding the cultures and communities that make up your audience is key to creating marketing campaigns that really hit home. When you speak directly to your audience’s experiences, you build trust and brand loyalty, which can ultimately boost your sales. Ensuring your marketing campaigns are diverse doesn’t just mean checking off a list of demographics. It’s about understanding the nuances of each culture and recognizing how they interact with your product or service. 

Diversity Beyond Gender and Race – Understanding the Full Spectrum

There are many different types of diversity, and it’s important to be aware of all of them when creating an inclusive marketing campaign. From gender and race to age, religion, sexual orientation, and more – understanding the full spectrum of diversity can help you create campaigns that are truly representative and authentic to your audience. 

This means taking into account how different consumers view your product or service, their unique needs, and even the language they use when talking about it. Diversity is not just about representation but also about acknowledging and respecting the differences that make each individual unique. Consumer research can go a long way to ensure your campaigns are hitting the mark, and can even help you imagine future products or marketing strategies. 

Exploring Cultural Intelligence

To truly understand and appreciate different cultures and communities, it’s important to do your research. Here are some tips to help you get started:

  • Engage with individuals from different backgrounds and ask questions: What makes them excited? What makes them upset? What images or stories do they truly hope to see in the world?
  • Listen to diverse perspectives and stories: It’s not enough to speak with one or two people from a certain community. It’s important to consider how different, intersectional factors — such as class, age, and immigration status — might impact how someone engages with your work.
  • Take diversity and inclusion training programs: Education is a lifelong practice, and that’s never been more true than in today’s fast-paced world. Commit to personal and professional growth through DEI programs, reading, and research.

The Power of Inclusive Marketing

Start with your target audience

To make an inclusive marketing campaign that really hits home, you need to know your audience inside and out. Who are they and what do they care about? What’s their story and what struggles do they face? When you have a good understanding of your audience, you can create a campaign that speaks to them and feels genuine. It’s all about really getting to know your audience and making them feel seen and heard.

Avoid stereotypes and tokenism

When you’re making an inclusive marketing campaign, it’s crucial to steer clear of stereotypes and tokenism. Stereotypes are harmful and spread negative attitudes towards marginalized groups of people, while tokenism is when you include just one person from a marginalized group to appear inclusive, but it’s not really genuine. It’s better to go for authenticity and inclusivity in every part of your campaign, so everyone feels welcome and valued. This can also ensure that well-educated and social-media-savvy young consumers don’t see your efforts as half-hearted or inauthentic.

Use inclusive language and imagery

To create a truly inclusive marketing campaign, it’s important to use language and imagery that respects and represents the diversity of your audience. This means using language that shows sensitivity and respect towards different cultures and communities and using images that accurately depict the diverse range of people in your target audience. By doing so, you can ensure that your campaign is not only more inclusive but also more effective in reaching a wider range of potential customers.

Authentically incorporating diversity into every aspect of the campaign

Creating an inclusive marketing campaign requires a holistic approach that includes diversity in every aspect of your message. This means considering diversity both on-screen and behind the scenes, and making sure your products and services reflect the diversity of your audience.

But it’s not just about checking boxes. Authenticity is key to creating a successful and impactful campaign. It’s not enough to just feature diverse individuals; you need to do it in a way that feels authentic and respectful. This involves being open about your intentions, actively listening to feedback, and continuously learning and evolving.

Examples of Successful Inclusive Marketing Campaigns

Apple’s “The Greatest”

Seeing oneself represented in media is a rare occurrence for people with disabilities, and when it does happen, it can often feel patronizing or objectifying. Apple’s “The Greatest” campaign broke this trend by showcasing people with disabilities simply living their lives to the fullest without an overly sentimental or inspirational tone. 

Nike “Dream Crazier”

This campaign launched during the 2019 Oscars, featuring women in sports breaking barriers, shattering stereotypes, and achieving greatness.

The ad highlights female athletes of different ages, races, and abilities, including Serena Williams, Simone Biles, and Ibtihaj Muhammad. It celebrates their resilience, perseverance, and achievements while also acknowledging the challenges they’ve faced due to their gender.

Ben & Jerry’s – “Love is Love”

Ben & Jerry’s “Love is Love” promoted LGBTQ+ equality and acceptance. The campaign featured a limited edition ice cream flavor called “I Dough, I Dough,” which was made in celebration of the Supreme Court’s decision to legalize same-sex marriage in the United States.

The campaign also included a call-to-action for consumers to sign a petition in support of the Equality Act, which would protect LGBTQ+ people from discrimination in areas such as employment, housing, and public accommodations.

By using their platform to promote LGBTQ+ rights, Ben & Jerry’s demonstrated their commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. This campaign helped to raise awareness of LGBTQ+ issues and fostered a sense of community among those who support equality for all.

Resources for Making Your Marketing Campaigns More Inclusive

Style guides:

Style guides are useful resources that provide guidelines for creating inclusive content. They cover everything from grammar and spelling to tone and voice. Some style guides also have specific guidelines for using inclusive language.

Diversity and inclusion training:

Training programs are great resources that can help you learn how to create more inclusive campaigns. They provide guidance on topics like cultural awareness, unconscious bias, and representation in advertising so you can develop a deeper understanding of key issues.

Online resources and articles:

There are many online resources and articles available that can help you stay up-to-date on inclusive marketing practices. These can provide valuable insights into how to create more inclusive campaigns that align with your company’s values and reflect the diversity of your target audience.

By using these tools and resources, you can create more inclusive marketing campaigns that are both effective and authentic. Remember, creating inclusive marketing campaigns is an ongoing process, and it requires constant learning and adaptation. By staying informed and committed to inclusivity, you can create campaigns that resonate with diverse audiences and help build a more equitable world. 


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