Embrace inclusivity and thrive
The world is astonishingly diverse. Brands that recognise and celebrate this diversity can truly acknowledge its beauty and champion its potential.
It’s currently Pride Month, a month dedicated to celebrating the LGBTQ+ community. It’s a time when businesses are presented with an opportunity to consider whether they’re doing enough to cultivate a diverse workforce and inclusive company culture.
Inclusivity is not a social trend; it’s about evolving and expanding our horizons, particularly for brands that engage with younger, more progressive generations.
Today’s brands carry a social responsibility to champion equal opportunities, foster fairness, and celebrate diversity in business. Inclusivity isn’t optional; it’s basic human decency.
Businesses that successfully develop an inclusive brand position themselves to remain relevant, grow, and thrive in the modern world.
In this article, we’ll explain more about what it means to be an inclusive brand, why it matters, and key strategies for developing a brand that resonates with an increasingly diverse and socially conscious audience.
What does it mean to be an inclusive brand?
Inclusive brands make everyone feel welcome and valued, regardless of their differences.
The world is a diverse place, and inclusive brands are committed to celebrating the beauty of this diversity. They recognise that each person’s unique perspective, beliefs, and experiences enrich the collective whole, and they represent diversity authentically in every aspect of their business.
Whilst representation is important, a genuinely inclusive brand also engages in inclusive behaviour. Rather than simply featuring diverse faces in advertising campaigns for example, inclusive brands infuse inclusivity into every step of their operations, from the hiring process right down to product development and marketing strategies. Inclusive brands are also accessible to and resonate with a broader spectrum of people, regardless of gender identity, race, age, education, disability, religious beliefs, nationality, or sexual orientation.
Being an inclusive brand means ensuring that your company culture, user experience, and products or services are accessible and welcoming to all. To achieve this, you will need an inclusivity strategy, policies, and procedures to eliminate barriers to participation and actively promote an environment where everyone, irrespective of their differences, feels a sense of belonging.
Why is brand inclusivity important for businesses today?
If a person is inclusive, they may be accepting, fair, friendly, non-judgmental, and welcoming. Sounds like someone you’d like to know and be friends with, right? Well, creating an inclusive brand can make your business more popular and likeable too.
Some key reasons why brands need to embrace inclusivity include the following:
Reach new audiences
Inclusive branding can potentially expand your brand’s reach. According to a global study by IPSOS, 72% of people say most advertising does not reflect the world around them, and 63% say they don’t see themselves represented in most advertising. Today’s consumers want brands that represent a diverse range of people, including themselves. By embracing inclusivity, brands can form deeper, more meaningful connections with their audience.
Gen Z is a demographic that will soon dominate the consumer market. Known for their advocacy for equal opportunities and engagement with social issues, Gen Z highly values inclusivity. Winning their loyalty can be pivotal for a brand’s future success and profitability. A study by Microsoft found that 70% of Gen Z trust brands more if they demonstrate diversity in their ads.
A commitment to inclusivity can position your brand as forward-thinking, progressive, and in tune with the evolving societal landscape. Fail to keep pace with the shift towards inclusivity, and your brand could fall behind its competitors.
Create emotional connections
Inclusive branding is critical for forming deep and meaningful connections with a diverse audience. Recognising and celebrating diversity shows your audience they are seen, heard, and valued, which fosters a sense of belonging and can lead to stronger emotional bonds between the brand and the customer. Inclusivity can also help to foster feelings of acceptance, contentment, joy, relaxation, confidence, and safety, which can strengthen customer loyalty and commitment to your brand.
Make a lasting impression
Embracing inclusivity can also help brands to leave a lasting impression on consumers. In a world where consumers are inundated with ads, inclusive branding stands out by reflecting the reality of our world. Facebook research indicates that online campaigns with diverse representation tend to have a higher ad recall. Inclusivity can make a brand more memorable.
Beyond its commercial advantages, inclusive branding carries significant social and ethical benefits. Social responsibility involves promoting equal opportunities, welcoming a diverse range of customers, and fostering an environment that celebrates diversity in business. Inclusive brands practise social responsibility by fostering an environment of acceptance and sending a positive message to their audience. By being actively inclusive, brands make a profound statement about their values and vision for a world where everyone feels respected and represented.
8 tips for developing an inclusive brand
Here’s 8 top tips for developing a successful and inclusive brand to reflect our diverse world.
Create an inclusivity strategy
An inclusive brand isn’t created overnight or due to a couple of social media posts. Inclusivity must be deeply ingrained, permeating your entire brand strategy and identity. Creating a comprehensive brand inclusivity strategy is the first step towards developing an inclusive brand.
Start from within
To develop an inclusive brand, you must establish inclusivity within your company. Start by diversifying your team and fostering a company culture that celebrates everyone’s differences. Hiring individuals across different races, genders, ages, sexual orientations, religions, and abilities give your business a broad perspective and strengthens the authenticity of its commitment to inclusivity.
Diversify your influence
Extend your brand’s inclusivity to the external influences and partnerships it seeks. Diversifying your influences enriches your brand’s perspective and understanding and sends a powerful message about the brand values your business upholds. This could mean partnering with minority-owned businesses, engaging with influencers from different backgrounds, or sponsoring events that celebrate diversity.
Do your research
To become more inclusive, brands should take the time to research and understand a diverse audience. This could involve conducting surveys, seeking feedback from focus groups, and listening to customer reviews from people of all backgrounds, demographics, and experiences. Use your research to discover what barriers to participation your audience faces and what you can do to make them feel seen, heard, and valued. Insights gained from your research can also help to guide your inclusive marketing strategies and ensure your products and branding resonate with a broad spectrum of customers.
Integrate diverse visual representation
Inclusive brands intentionally incorporate imagery that reflects the diversity of their customer base in their marketing materials, advertising, and product packaging. This involves challenging ‘the norm’ and featuring models of different races, genders, sizes, ages, abilities, and more. Diversifying your brand’s visual representation sends the message that your brand is for everyone.
Mind your language
Ensure your brand messaging is considerate and inclusive by avoiding stereotypes and discriminatory language. Use gender-neutral pronouns, where possible, to avoid excluding anyone. Incorporating language guidelines into your brand voice can help to ensure that inclusive language is used consistently across your business to foster an environment of respect and equality.
To be truly inclusive, your business should be accessible to all. This means considering your audience’s different needs and abilities and auditing your products, services, and digital platforms to ensure they meet website accessibility standards and best practices. Offering alternative text options like braille and subtitles and ensuring your digital content is clear, concise, and easy to read are just a few ways to increase accessibility.
Be authentic and intentional
Inclusivity doesn’t just mean sharing a post about Black Lives Matter or adding a rainbow to your logo during Pride Month. Business inclusivity is not a trend or marketing tactic; it’s a commitment that should be deeply ingrained in all facets of your business, including brand values, marketing campaigns, and internal processes. Half-hearted or shallow gestures may come across as inauthentic and damage your brand’s reputation.
Examples of successful inclusive branding
Now that we understand what inclusivity is and how brands can achieve it, let’s look at a few big-name brands that are getting inclusivity right. These brands are doing a great job at turning talk about business inclusivity into real action and making everyone feel welcome. Let’s check out how they’re making a difference.
Barbie’s website states, ‘Barbie recognises the importance of representation and is committed to doing the work to inspire the next generation.’ Barbie is the most diverse and inclusive doll in the world, featuring 35 skin tones, 97 hairstyles, and nine different body types. As well as featuring dolls of different races and skin tones, Barbie has also launched dolls with Downs Syndrome, hearing aids, vitiligo, prosthetics, and a wheelchair. By offering a diverse range of dolls, Barbie reflects the diversity of the children who play with its dolls and encourages them to play with toys that represent people who are different to them to help foster acceptance, understanding, and inclusion in the future generation.
Nike is ‘committed to creating the equitable playing field of the future’ and believes that the work starts with its employees. Nike has built a diverse and inclusive team that reflects the athletes and communities it works with. The brand regularly runs campaigns supporting social issues, including its current BeTrue campaign that honours athletes who uplift the LGBTQ+ community. Nike also showcases a diverse product range, including the Nike Pro Hijab for Muslim athletes and FlyEase adaptive activewear for people with disabilities. Nike has been named the Human Rights Campaign’s Best Place to Work for LGBTQ+ Equality for 20 years in a row. It was also named the DEI Best Place to Work for Disability Inclusion in 2022.
Microsoft believes that a diverse workforce offers businesses a wide range of perspectives, backgrounds, and experiences. As well as hiring diversely, Microsoft also promotes using the Inclusive Design methodology when designing new products or services. Inclusive design helps to identify and solve exclusions to ensure everyone has equal opportunities regardless of ability. Microsoft works hard to ensure its products and services are accessible to everyone and sells various adaptive technologies and accessories for people with disabilities.
Popstar Rihanna’s line of beauty products, Fenty Beauty, disrupted the beauty industry when it came onto the scene delivering ‘Beauty for All’ as an inclusive line of cosmetics and beauty products marketed to a diverse audience. Fenty Beauty boasts over 50 foundation shades, regularly features plus-sized models in its marketing, and offers a range of gender-neutral products. Fenty Beauty doesn’t just talk about being inclusive; it shows us by not excluding anyone.
Coca-Cola is committed to promoting brand diversity and inclusion through a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion strategy to employ a diverse workforce, celebrate uniqueness, and create an inclusive environment. It also has a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Ally Business Resource Group to support inclusivity at work and in the community. The company’s branding and marketing efforts reflect its commitment to diversity. Its ‘Love is Love’ campaign, for example, depicts same-sex couples enjoying Coca-Cola products with the slogan ‘Zero sugar, zero prejudice.’
Develop an inclusive brand with Create8
Feeling inspired to take your business’s inclusivity to the next level?
At Create8, our branding services and diversity and inclusivity consulting can help you to cultivate a more inclusive brand that resonates with a diverse audience. Contact us today to start the journey towards a more inclusive future for your brand. Let’s make a difference together.