The desire for diverse and inclusive branding isn’t new, but it’s become abundantly clear that today’s consumers want — and expect — brands to highlight real people who display the full spectrum of races, ethnicities, orientations, and abilities. True commitment to diversity means more than including more varied faces in marketing campaigns. Brands need to ask if their products are inclusive and look internally at their employees and hiring practices.
Diverse representation matters for social and ethical reasons, but it’s also good for business. According to a 2019 consumer survey, 64% of respondents took an action after seeing an ad they considered to be diverse or inclusive.
So, how do you make your brand more diverse?
Work With Diverse Creators
The popularity of user-generated content (UGC) and influencer marketing gives brands access to a wide range of content creators more easily than ever before. If you want to make your marketing more diverse and authentic, turn to your fans and followers. User-generated content has become so effective because it highlights real people and real voices.
Today’s consumers want to see people who look like them in ads and branded content. If you want to reach all your customers, then partnering with diverse creators is a good place to start. New UGC is constantly being created and, thanks to upgraded smartphone technology, makes for high-quality visuals. User-generated content has a huge ROI — with 25% higher ad performance, a 29% increase in online conversions, and an 88% boost in brand engagement on social media.
Since social media networks are accessible to everyone with an internet connection, the people creating content on these sites are from a wide range of backgrounds, communities, and experiences. Make it a priority to connect with influencers who come from varied backgrounds, communities, and experiences. Work with them to craft campaigns that tell your brand story and theirs in an authentic way.
Think Beyond Target Demographics
You may think that your brand is reaching all your prospective customers, but it’s probably not. People want to see themselves in your marketing materials, and for niche communities or underrepresented groups, that’s a rare event. If your customers don’t feel like your products or services are for them, they’re not going to want to buy from your brand.
Being representative in your marketing means more than picking stock photos that check certain boxes. You need to be intentional about creating a message that’s centered around inclusion. Thinking beyond your target demographic to make your brand more diverse means understanding your broader audience. Figure out the real makeup of your audience and work with people from the demographics that are left out of your current marketing.
Take the time to listen, learn, and understand the nuances that may exist. Examine your current marketing campaigns to see if some groups are disproportionately represented and figure out how to adapt your message to authentically reach a more diverse audience.
Hire Diverse Talent
Creating inclusive products and culture starts from within. A diverse team brings multiple points of view to the table, including people who have first-hand knowledge of different demographics. Commit to diversity in hiring and take an honest look at your brand’s internal demographics.
Good marketers can work on brands and products even if they’re not part of the target audience, but it takes understanding and cultural intelligence to do things right. There are plenty of examples of brands who missed the mark with messages of diversity and inclusivity, because they focused more on token diversity instead of authentic change.
Focus on hiring the right people for open roles based on their experience and on creating a culture that has clear pathways to advancement for all employees. Inclusion is the right thing to do, and it can positively affect your revenue. Research shows that when companies have diverse upper management teams, their revenue-earning capacity increases by 19%.
It’s clear that diversity and inclusion initiatives are good for business and for brand reputation, but consumers are savvy enough to recognize when a brand is just paying lip service. User-generated content is so effective because it’s authentic. It features real people and real stories, reflecting consumers preference for more transparency in marketing.
Brands across industries have turned to UGC to show real customers interacting with their products and services in authentic ways. Be intentional about sourcing content by diverse creators (who may not just be the users with the most followers) as well as from influencers who represent a wide range of backgrounds and experiences. Create lasting relationships with underrepresented communities instead of just re-sharing their content to get more engagement.
Consumers value authenticity and transparency, and that extends to how brands make their products and advertising more diverse. Brands also have to commit to making real, lasting changes to the way they market, who they work with, and who they hire. Authenticity means walking the walk, not just talking the talk.
When you make your brand more diverse, it has a positive impact on your business — from engagement with social media content to conversions. But, making your brand more diverse requires commitment to making big changes. Commitment to diversity means working with diverse creators within your potential or current brand audience, changing your hiring practices to make sure you’re representing a range of voices and experiences, and adapting your message so it resonates with your whole customer base.
Making your brand more diverse isn’t just good business. It’s the right and responsible thing to do.