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To be an Inclusive Brand, Where to Start

Long gone are the days when brands could speak of inclusivity without any concrete actions. (As it should). Inclusivity is a choice and this choice must be followed with a concrete action plan. But what does it truly mean to be an inclusive brand?

Before diving into inclusive branding, let’s define the terms ‘brand’ and ‘branding’.

A brand is the identity of a company and branding is the power of creating meaning regarding this entity.

Branding allows customers to feel, experience and perceive the brand in a strategic way that is unique to its own brand. It’s literally what allows consumers to distinguish your brand from another.

Branding is the story you tell, how you communicate and bring to life your brand values. It’s how you build trust and connect with your audience, it’s also how you communicate your brand identity, and it’s the art of making your customers feel something.

So by understanding what a brand is and what branding does, how do you build an inclusive brand?

There are many ways to go at this and of course, not all are so simple.

The reality is, some legacy brands have always functioned in their ways without focusing on inclusivity and they were doing just fine. These brands now have a genuine desire to incorporate inclusivity in their ways of doing while having to pivot a huge boat. Contrary to smaller brands smaller teams who are are much more agile in their way of doing things and are able to incorporate core changes in a much more fluid way.

NOW! This is where we take a deep breath and come to the conscious fact that:

becoming an inclusive brand is not an overnight process, it takes time, effort, planning and accountability. But mostly it takes support.

Truthfully it’s easy to look at brands that seem un-inclusive and point fingers at them while celebrating inclusive and diverse brands for doing their thing!

Trust me, I am a true advocate for inclusivity and no explanation is right on why a brand was never inclusive, to begin with. YET, I do celebrate the desire brands have to become more inclusive and who are truly enabling resources to do so.

Inaction is action, but action is action. (You get the point)

Inclusive marketing, where to begin?

1. It’s a mindset, a way of being

To be an inclusive brand means that inclusivity is translated into your brand’s DNA, into your brand’s core values. It means that every activity you do is designed with inclusivity at the very beginning of the process, rather than as an afterthought. It also means that the core values you translate through inclusivity enable your brand’s overarching mission.

Since we are highlighting core values for your business, this means that inclusivity is translated through your work culture, the people in your organization, your commercial strategies and your marketing tactics. Overall, inclusivity becomes a mindset for your organization. Think of every pillar of your business and begin by taking steps to make sure they incorporate inclusivity.

2. Get to know your audience

Understanding your customer tribe is one of the greatest areas of opportunity for inclusivity inside your brand. Sometimes we look outside for the different groups and segments we would like to speak to, and yes that’s a great idea but most of the time our first areas of expansion for our brand in terms of inclusivity are right here in front of us. Inside your data, there are many pockets of consumer segments that highlight commonalities from different groups. From the data, you capture from your consumers, seek to understand which customer buckets you may be undersserving.

For example, if you are a beauty brand that typically speaks to women in the age range of 20 to 30 and notice that you have an important segment of women in the age range of 50 to 60 buying your products. Well, it’s a great first step towards inclusivity in age for your brand.

Just from your data, you will be able to gain a lot of insight into your bling spots when it comes to inclusivity. Start there and then expand.

3. Invest in your people

Diversity and inclusivity start within. Point blank period. If you want to be an inclusive brand, you have to make sure that your brand is inclusive within its organization.

That means that the people behind your brand are diverse and work in an environment that truly embodies inclusivity.

To have a brand that feels inclusive to its consumer, it has to have inclusive tactics, ideas and products. To get to that end goal, you have to have people behind your brand that represent what you want to translate.

So make sure your teams are well-versed, and that your brand offers a truly inclusive environment and in sum represented through your brand's core values.

Now, as I have mentioned previously.

To fully embody inclusivity as a brand takes time, effort, planning, accountability and especially support. It’s not an overnight success type of thing, it’s a process, it’s a journey and it’s also ever-evolving.

The first step is to make the conscious choice of becoming an inclusive brand and then building your action steps towards it.

Inclusive marketing is becoming a key component of purchasing decisions for consumers and this will inevitably become a way to identify brands in the future.

Need help in understanding inclusive marketing, or building an inclusive brand culture within your organization?

Please! Write to me! Let’s talk and see how we can work together.


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