Inclusive brands are more successful, but it’s hard to get it right and be authentic.
Brands that embrace diversity and challenge preconceptions around race, age, sexual orientation and gender are doing well. But challenging these biases requires authenticity and honesty. Although it is difficult to do well, brands should try to achieve inclusion in all their activities, internal and external.
It is not just in external communications that brands need to be inclusive. It is in every aspect of their activities and partnerships. In recruiting and serving younger people in particular, inclusive brands will win their trust. Young consumers see brands as an extension of themselves, a way to express themselves and their mindsets support and encourage diversity, so brands should do the same. For example, a new fashion brand was recently praised for a campaign featuring models with disabilities. But it was by no means a stunt for the outside world, the company seeks to emply differently-abled staff and so the campaign was simply an extension of the company’s values in practice.
Unilever (Catalyst magazine Q1 2021) has a five-year track record advertising in a way that rejects stereotypes of race, gender and age. Instead, it presents society in a more realistic manner. Having been successful in regional markets, Unilever is now taking this initiative to global audience with partners that include Facebook.
Inclusive brands need to take care, however. It’s hard to get it right all the time. Cadbury’s Unity chocolate bar tried to celebrate racial diversity but did not succeed; critics claimed it was trivialising the issue.
A campaign is only as good as its date, however. Data can carry biases which will shape the nature of a campaign. That means, then, that a commitment to inclusivity is needed throughout the organisation. Bias training for all employees can help here. External auditing of any potential organisational bias is another good idea.
The results are worth the effort. When customers recognise an inclusive brand, they trust it and they are loyal.
More about inclusive brands is here