Changing The Diversity LandscapeBY Sarah Stein // Content Marketing Copywriter
A proactive approach to diverse and inclusive content
Developing content that consciously incorporates a diverse mix of humanity and language can sometimes pose a challenge. But brands need to understand that diversity and inclusion aren’t just buzzwords, and that incorporating them into a marketing strategy isn’t nice, it’s necessary.
Where are most brands struggling with this issue?
- Brands want to feature their intended audience in ads and content, but also don’t want to exclude an untapped market.
- Race and gender may have been a consideration in their content, but they have disregarded the importance of age, ability/disability, socioeconomic status, ethnicity, nationality, gender identity or sexual orientation.
- Inclusivity is missing from their overall strategy. How can they allow everyone to feel included, heard, valued, and seen the same way?
So, how can your content represent diverse groups and promote inclusivity, all while staying true to brand values and goals?
Embrace Diversity From Within
If the brand does not regard diversity and inclusion as important, it may not be as easy as you think to get buy-in on this front. Embracing these ideas begins with leadership accepting and promoting it throughout the company. Reflecting on how the brand approaches diversity within their own internal teams is an opportunity to point out the value it can add to their strategy, and how to utilize the diversity they may already have on their team to avoid any potential cultural missteps.
Bringing some insightful facts to the table drives home the value that adding these strategies will provide:
- A Deloitte report noted that organizations with inclusive cultures were six times more likely to be innovative and agile, eight times more likely to achieve better business outcomes, and twice as likely to meet or exceed financial targets.
- 61% of Americans find diversity in advertising important, and 38% of consumers are more likely to trust brands that do well with showing diversity in their ads. (source)
- Brands with the most representative ads saw an average stock gain of 44% in a seven-quarter period ending last year. (source)
Start With The Audience
How can you elevate content by including those that have been previously underrepresented or marginalized? What if the audience was able to see themselves through the eyes of someone who looks like them or shares the same beliefs and values?
Gen Y and Z expect for brands to show diversity, and have reported that they are most receptive to ads showcasing diverse families, and that they are more accepting of nontraditional gender roles compared to baby boomers.(source) By reflecting the full spectrum of people they are hoping to reach, they can create a lasting impact that evokes profound emotions.
Take the time to do some serious research in every area of the audience. Who are these groups? What kind of stories do they have to tell? We know what resonates most with people is content that is created with the human experience in mind. Look for influencers, spokespeople, or brand ambassadors that have a uniquely diverse perspective, but still align with your brand goals and values.
Branding and Design
When developing designs for a distinct audience or community, it’s indispensable to have designers or advisors from these communities who can bring first-hand knowledge and experience to the process. While this isn’t always possible, a good place to start is by ensuring your designers can recognize where groups are being excluded. Prepare them with focused training to learn about their own unconscious bias, stereotypes, tone deafness, or what cultural appropriation looks like so they can avoid it.
Inclusive designs should initiate a conversation with the audience. Knowing who your audience is may take time, but eventually, you can come to better understand what their reaction to your content might be. Your design team should always keep diversity and inclusion at the core of the messaging, and use creative content to show how the product or service can empower people, or tell their story about how it changed their lives for the better.
Editing for Inclusion
Including images of all different genders, races, body types, and abilities is important. But visuals are only part of the plan. Writers and editors should also ensure that any copy created reflects the same inclusive language that your images show. Sometimes, this requires individuals to go above and beyond, seeking out best practices and professional guides to avoid assumptions when describing certain groups, or be sensitive to certain diversity-related topics.
Some common resources to find this information:
- The Associated Press Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law 2020
- The National Center on Disability and Journalism Disability Style Guide
- The Conscious Style Guide
Changing The Landscape
The opportunity to make positive change for your audience and your business starts with thinking differently about the value of including diversity into your marketing plan. But it can’t be an idea that sits on the back-burner waiting to be taken seriously. Incorporating a thoughtful, meaningful strategy takes time and effort. But, if you’re willing to put in the work, the possibilities of reaching new audiences is undeniable.