Diversity and Inclusion-Best Communication Practices
Messaging best practices in diversity and inclusion brand and marketing communications include telling diverse stories and using inclusive language.
1) Telling Diverse Stories
- It is difficult to tell a story in which everyone can connect. It is, therefore, best to "tell lots of different stories so there is something for everyone".
- Brands focusing on diversity and inclusion can weave diversity into different stories.
- Toyota is an example of a brand that has used this best practice while marketing their 2018 Camry. The company crammed various diversity stories into one campaign.
- Toyota created eight unique films about the 2018 Camry. It featured individuals of different races, ethnicities, and lifestyles. Each film was "designed to tap into unique cultural motivators" and targeted relevant audiences online.
- The automotive brand created one film for Asian Americans, one for African Americans, two films for Hispanic consumers, and four others featuring other races, age groups, and genders.
2) Use Inclusive Language
- It is best for all aspects of a campaign to "make it both target-specific and welcoming to others". It is important to create messaging that does not exclude anyone.
- It is therefore important to understand how the language used can have unintended side effects, propagate unconscious biases, or create barriers.
- An example of a marketing campaign that used an inclusive language is the Coca-Cola's 'America is beautiful' campaign.
- The campaign featured a diverse cast that sang a multi-language interpretation of the "America the Beautiful" song.
- The campaign sparked a conversation about America's changing face and how the company reflected a cultural touchstone that everyone shared.
Channel communication best practices in diversity and inclusion include using multiple channels and opening communication channels.
1) Use Multiple Channels
- According to Learning Hub, diversity and inclusion marketing efforts should make use of multiple messaging channels.
- It is also important that specific messages should be designed to relate with the audience it is intended to reach. The message should also be delivered through the target group's preferred communication channel.
- An example of a marketing campaign that used the practice is Bumble. The company launched a campaign to celebrate the diversity of its New York users.
- Bumble set up an Instagram campaign that showcased its users' diversity and inspirational backgrounds.
- The company also created targeted ads "to the users’ neighborhoods, favorite hangouts and workplaces". The portraits of users were also available in newspapers, on store fronts, and subway stations.
2) Open Communication Channels
- It is important to open up communication channels with consumers. Customer-centered diversity and inclusion efforts can profit from the upload of brand-related content by clients in channels such as YouTube.
- Brands that work with social media influencers in their campaigns can have an opportunity to increase visibility by making an effort to reach out to a demographically diverse audience of similar influencers.
- An example of a marketing campaign that used the practice is Microsoft. Microsoft's "We All Win" Superbowl commercial focused on a new gaming controller targeted toward people with disabilities.
- The company opened up a communication channel where "disabled people who still couldn't use the controller could write to them requesting customizations".
- This campaign makes consumers trust Microsoft's brand because it went further to learn about the challenges1x of its users and solved the problems by coming up with a product that they are comfortable with.
Visual communication best practices in diversity and inclusion include being real and using diverse and inclusive images.
1) Be Real
- It is important to use images of real people to "build an emotional connection with consumers and celebrate who they are".
- According to PostFunnel, 52% of mothers feel connected with ads that use real mothers instead of actors or models.
- An example of a marketing campaign that has used this practice is the 'Aerie Bras Make You Feel Real Good’ campaign.
- The campaign featured "un-retouched images of real women with a variety of backgrounds and physiques".
2) Use Diverse and Inclusive Images
- To positively shape the brand's perception of diversity and inclusion, it requires "specific effort and attention to the visual details of diversity and inclusion".
- Using inclusive imagery, being mindful of how race, gender, and religion are portrayed in advertising and ensuring the brand's customer base is represented is a key consideration in inclusion marketing.
- Gap’s Back to School campaign is an example of a marketing campaign that has used this practice.
- The campaign featured regular kids dancing, playing, and singing in their "classic Gap denim and tees". The campaign featured a young girl proudly wearing her hijab and black students wearing their natural hair.
Other diversity and inclusion brand and marketing communication best practices include being transparent and building a diverse creative team.
1) Be Transparent
- It is important to be transparent in diversity and inclusion communication efforts. "Failing to be transparent could be perceived as shady".
- It is best to own the brand's weakness and celebrate its accomplishments. It is important to clearly communicate the challenges that the company is facing and presenting a plan for improvement. This will go a long way to show that the company is taking its commitments and goals seriously.
- An example of a company that has employed this practice is Salesforce. In 2015, after an internal audit revealed that there was a gap in salaries of men and women, the company made this public instead of covering it up.
- Salesforce "launched an equality website and publicly published its full diversity statistics" and also spend about $3 million in salary adjustments.
2) Build a Diverse Creative Team
- According to Skyword, "everyone has cognitive biases based on their own experiences" and this leads to gaps in knowledge and stereotypes.
- It is important to build a diverse creative team to mitigate cognitive differences by working together and filling each other's gaps in knowledge with insights into the real world.
- According to Forbes, "diverse companies produce 19% more revenue".
- An example of a company that has employed this practice is EY. The company was among the first companies "to assign full-time, partner-level leadership to diversity recruiting".
- It also has programs such as EY Launch. EY Launch is a program for "ethnically diverse college freshmen".
We started by searching through articles, blogs, and publications relating to diversity and inclusion. Our primary focus was on best practices for brand and marketing communication. In compiling this information, we examined case studies and opinions of experts.
After finding a large list of articles and blogs with information on diversity and inclusion, we sorted out these articles and blogs in terms of relevance and consistency. We then listed out the most common and repeatedly mentioned best practices.