In today’s increasingly diverse world, diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) have become essential aspects of successful marketing campaigns. When implemented correctly, DEI can not only elevate your brand but also forge deep connections with your target audience. However, mishandling DEI can lead to disastrous consequences for your brand’s reputation. In this article, we will examine three brands that have excelled in DEI best practices and one brand that failed to deliver a quality marketing campaign. By exploring their successes and failures, we can extract valuable lessons that will help you navigate the realm of DEI marketing.
Knocking It Out of the Park
Good American, a fashion brand, exemplifies the potential of DEI in the fashion industry. Unlike typical casting calls, they actively seek out diverse women of all shapes, sizes, and races to represent their brand. Good American’s commitment to inclusivity and body positivity extends beyond their fashion products. They invest their time and resources in organizations like the National Association of Black Women Business Owners and the Women’s March. This demonstrates that DEI should be ingrained in your brand’s core values, transcending mere product promotion.
A prominent name in the tech industry, Adobe has made DEI the centerpiece of their organizational culture. They have established diversity and inclusion councils and mentorship programs that specifically target underrepresented groups. Adobe also integrates DEI into their training by providing courses on unconscious bias, fostering an environment where individuals feel empowered and respected. By prioritizing DEI throughout their organization, Adobe’s marketing campaigns come across as genuine and authentic, rather than forced.
Häagen-Dazs, a beloved brand known for its delightful desserts, has taken significant strides in embracing DEI. Their website features a dedicated section where they highlight their commitment to inclusivity in the community. Moreover, Häagen-Dazs actively invests in organizations such as the GLAAD Media Awards and the NAACP Image Awards, enabling them to extend their reach and bridge gaps in DEI marketing. By aligning their brand with these initiatives, they not only showcase their commitment but also resonate with diverse audiences.
A Swing and a Miss
Levi’s, a renowned fashion brand, found itself in hot water earlier this year due to a misstep in their DEI marketing approach. They announced a partnership with a digital fashion agency to utilize AI models in their upcoming campaign, citing the desire to showcase diversity. However, this move received backlash as it conveyed a lack of genuine commitment to DEI. Instead of embracing true inclusivity, it seemed as though Levi’s was more concerned with presenting an image. This incident left models feeling undervalued and undermined the brand’s reputation in terms of inclusivity.
- Be authentic: DEI initiatives should align with your brand and target demographic. Approach DEI genuinely rather than using diversity as a mere façade for appearing innovative or forward-thinking. Let’s learn from the success of brands like Good American and Häagen-Dazs:
- Instead of simply featuring diversity in your marketing campaigns, actively seek out individuals who authentically represent your target audience. Regardless of your industry, inclusivity should be an integral part of your brand values.
- Extend your commitment to DEI beyond your products or services. Support organizations or causes that resonate with your target audience, building genuine connections with diverse communities.
- Foster inclusion internally: Make DEI an integral part of your organization’s core. Incorporate it into your mission and vision, invest in team members, and create an environment where everyone feels respected and accepted. Follow the lead of companies like Adobe:
- Establish diversity and inclusion councils or committees within your organization to drive DEI initiatives. Encourage open dialogue and feedback from employees, ensuring that underrepresented voices are valued and heard.
- Implement mentorship programs that provide support and growth opportunities for individuals from diverse backgrounds. By nurturing talent within your organization, you cultivate a culture of inclusivity.
- Stay educated: Best practices in DEI are continually evolving. Stay updated with the latest information and seek guidance from DEI experts. What is considered correct today may differ tomorrow. Don’t hesitate to consult professionals in the DEI space if you have concerns. Here’s a tip:
- Attend DEI conferences, workshops, or webinars to stay informed about emerging trends, research, and strategies. Apply the insights you gain to your unique business context, regardless of the industry you operate in.
- Engage with DEI consultants or experts who can provide customized guidance tailored to the specific needs of your business. Their expertise can help you navigate complex DEI challenges and seize opportunities for growth.
- Mindful messaging: Show respect and consideration in your DEI campaigns. Avoid using AI models or employing terminology that perpetuates stereotypes. Conduct thorough research to ensure that your message is well received and respected. Here’s a word of caution:
- Instead of relying on technology-generated models, prioritize authentic representation by featuring real individuals from diverse backgrounds in your marketing materials. This approach showcases genuine diversity and avoids the risk of appearing tokenistic or insincere.
- Take the time to conduct market research and engage with diverse focus groups. This feedback will help you develop messaging that resonates with and respects your diverse target audience, regardless of the industry you operate in.
By applying these lessons, your business can create impactful DEI marketing campaigns that genuinely connect with your target audience, foster an inclusive internal culture, and avoid missteps that could harm your brand’s reputation. Remember, DEI is relevant and beneficial for businesses across various industries, and it requires a continuous commitment to learning, adaptation, and the genuine embrace of inclusivity.