Blog Header Image

Beyond Pride: Tips for Year-Round LGBTQ+ Inclusive Marketing

In the past few years, the term “rainbow washing” has gained popularity. The phrase refers to companies who show open support for the LGBTQ+ community in their marketing, but only in the month of June when it’s most profitable. 

More than ever before, customers are demanding authenticity from the businesses they frequent. Even though your entire customer base may not be part of the community, being inclusive of queer identities can benefit your business. Recent polls have shown that people who do not identify as part of the LGBTQ+ community believe businesses should show their support through ads and hiring practices. While many organizations tout inclusivity as a part of their mission statement, not all demonstrate that throughout the year. Here are some ideas for how you can ensure your marketing is inclusive of the LGBTQ+ community 365 days a year.

Include Diverse Representation in Your Visuals
One step your brand can take in being inclusive year-round is showing diverse representation in your digital marketing. For example, when you’re building a campaign and hiring models to play the part of the married couple, make sure you’re not “defaulting” to a man and woman. Having models of same-sex couples or people outside of the gender binary throughout marketing efforts signals to your audience that you’re company is an ally in a more authentic way. 

Donate and Support LGBTQ+ Organizations–Not Just in June
Community support is likely one of the pillars of your organization’s marketing efforts. Outside of June, are you including queer organizations in these efforts? Many companies organize or encourage employee volunteering, are you ensuring a portion of those hours goes to LGBTQ+ non-profits in your area? As recently as 2019, less the 1% of all philanthropic support was given to LGBTQ+-focused non-profits. The best way you can show your authentic support of the community is by putting your money where your mouth is by offering actual, measurable support to non-profits supporting the queer community. It shows your audience that you’re not just all talk–you’re doing some real work year-round. 

Adopt Inclusive Messaging and Language
For many people, it’s easy to default to language that inadvertently excludes queer and gender-nonconforming people. Using gender-neutral messaging is a small change you can make that goes a long way. Referring to “spouses” in place of “husband and wife,” for example, plays the same role with the added bonus of including same-sex relationships. Internally, review your company’s collateral and see how inclusive it is. When you start with internal, foundational changes, it’s easier to transition to speaking more inclusively in your external communications.

Consider How Your Product or Service Can Better Serve LGBTQ+ People
While your product may be innocuous or universally relatable, consider how it may hold a specific role in the lives of LGBTQ+ people. When you review this way, you can reveal more opportunities to market directly to this population, or take it a step further, and identify unique ways your organization can give back.

Bombas is a great example of looking at its product through the lens of serving queer people. Every sale from the brand–which started by selling socks and has since branched out to other apparel–is matched with a donation to a homeless shelter. While it is on the Pride Collection page, the company addresses that nearly half of all homeless people identify as LGBTQ+ and that the donation of their products can play a role in uplifting a specific population of queer people. 

Remember: Employees Are Your Brand’s Biggest Advocates
The people who are going to give the most support when your company is getting it right are your employees. Their word-of-mouth promotion of your company is priceless. They’re able to spread the word more authentically about the work your company is doing to be more inclusive. Moreover, when you hire diversly, your company’s perspective expands. Diverse employee feedback on company policies, culture, or marketing is one way that it will become a more inclusive place to work or shop. 

Embracing inclusivity in marketing should be a year-round commitment for companies. While Pride Month is an important time to show support for the LGBTQ+ community, extending those efforts beyond a single month is essential. Making an effort to be more inclusive is not only the right thing to do but also a strategic decision that can lead to increased brand loyalty, customer satisfaction, and a positive impact on society as a whole. By making inclusivity a priority, companies can create marketing campaigns that resonate with a diverse audience and contribute to a more inclusive world.

If you’re looking to make your marketing plans more inclusive, contact the experts at Vibrant!