June 28, 2019

Genuine Messaging that Resonates beyond PRIDE Month

by Jon Jennings

From a simple logo update incorporating elements of Gilbert Baker’s rainbow flag design to a well-researched, fully integrated campaign that seeks to engage LGBTQ narratives and perspectives, brands are increasingly utilizing their platforms to show their support for a historically underserved community. More often than not, this support is highly publicized annually during the month of June—a time where LGBTQ people, their friends, and their families come together all over the world to celebrate diversity and share stories of resistance and support. It is exciting to see rainbows fill my Instagram feed and members of the community front and center in major marketing ads, however, many brands haven’t truly resonated with the LGBTQ community. Perhaps this is because, although the sentiment is clear—and the month of June is a time for celebrating equality—there is a lack of consistency including such sentiment the rest of the year.

The real question we’re left with, then, is how brands can resonate with the LGBTQ community (i.e. consumers) when Pride Month ends. The short answer: authenticity. Your customers know when your motives are inauthentic, and a simple logo change or ad campaign for a 30-day period may bring in new business for a short blip, but it won’t necessarily have a lasting effect on your customer base. Authenticity can be demonstrated in numerous ways too: represent same-sex couples and transwomen and men in your ads, show your support for relevant causes or donate to organizations that support LGBTQ people, and be a vocal ally in the face of discrimination. As Sonia Thompson with Inc.com puts it, “Your customers, particularly diverse ones, want to spend their hard-earned dollars with brands that demonstrate they are interested in building a long-term relationship with them and their community.”

The Coca-Cola Company, for example, is a corporation that continues to place inclusion and diversity at the forefront of their branding. By representing same sex couples in print ads, giving the LGBTQ community the spotlight in a Super Bowl commercial, or finding the connection between a coming-of-age queer romance and a bottle of soda in a short film, Coca-Cola demonstrates genuine support across mainstream media.

In addition to a plethora of advertisements celebrating equality, the culture of the company is distinguished for its commitment to inclusivity. In fact, Coca-Cola was one of the first companies in the United States to publicly back the Employment Non-Discrimination Act in support of marriage equality. Because of such business practices, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) recognizes the company as a platinum corporate partner, a title granted to those entities that support the work of the HRC and demonstrate a high level of commitment to equality. These values manifest outwardly through Coca-Cola’s advertising, policies, and activism, and, in doing so, they have built lasting relationships with their LGBTQ customers.

Moving forward, here are just a few do’s and don’ts to help strengthen your connection with members of the LGBTQ community:

  • DO show your authentic support during the month of June
  • DON’T stop showing that support on July 1st
  • DO include people of the LGBTQ community in your brand’s regular campaigns
  • DON’T use stereotypes and clichés in your representation of queer people
  • DO advertise in media specific to the LGBTQ community 
  • DON’T donate or contribute to organizations that have a record of supporting anti-LGBTQ initiatives

Product innovation will always be a key component of a brand’s immediate success. An equally important question that often gets overlooked, however, is how to create innovative, diverse brand messaging strategies for such products in order to keep customers coming back long-term. If there is one thing we can learn from market trends during Pride Month, it is the authenticity of brands is becoming increasingly important to consumers. Success is no longer being solely defined by a sales-based track record. We are moving into an era where the merit of a brand and the things they value take precedent.

Consumers are progressively using their purchasing power as a means to show support for or protest of businesses whose values do or do not align with their own. If a company can demonstrate solidarity and establish brand loyalty with LGBTQ consumers, investment of this customer base can go a long way. As Justin Nelson and Chance Mitchell state, “In 2017 alone, the LGBT consumer buying power was over $917 billion.” With proper research and handling of LGBTQ issues, this potential buying power makes for an economic force that should no longer be ignored.

All things considered, it’s pretty clear authenticity is key to any successful relationship between brands and consumers, but hand-in-hand with that is consistency. Know what your company’s values are and share them more intimately with your customers. In the end, they are the ones that determine a business’s profitability. Diversity and inclusion have become incredibly important in the success of brands, and when it comes to the LGBTQ community, we at Creative Energy hope to see that extended into the rest of the year. To learn more about our approach to healthy inclusive branding, give us a call or reach out to our team.

Contact David Brashears, Business Development & Director of Public Relations at 423.926.9494 ext. 111 or dbrashears@cenergy.com

For additional information on advertising as it relates to the LGBTQ+ community, check out the resources below.

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