Understanding inclusive marketing and how you can get it right
At the heart of any marketing strategy is to create a positive brand image. Having a brand that people view in a positive light, feel positive about, and can connect to is important. Inclusive marketing makes sure your brand connects with the largest possible audience. It also helps existing customers to create a much stronger bond with your brand.
What is inclusive marketing?
Inclusive marketing is marketing that considers diversity in all forms. This includes age, appearance, ethnicity, and gender identity. As well as language, socio-economic status, religion/spirituality, and physical/mental ability. It’s about recognising that your audience is made up of different groups of people. It’s also creating marketing campaigns that will resonate with all people from all backgrounds and walks of life. Inclusive marketing also recognises that every person has multiple identities. It reflects real people in the real world.
Let’s talk about inclusive marketing campaigns
Inclusive marketing campaigns will speak to all groups of people, including marginalised and underrepresented groups. But they’ll do so in a way that breaks stereotypes. They’ll tell your audience that you see them and really understand them - for real.
Going above and beyond, truly inclusive marketing will elevate the voices of people that are typically underrepresented.
Embracing diversity in marketing and advertising isn’t about simply including diverse people in your images. It’s not about ticking the boxes of diversity. Rather, it’s about reflecting and connecting with your audiences. As people, we do this by getting to know one another on a personal level. In inclusive marketing, it’s the same but on a brand to consumer level.
How to avoid the clichés
According to research by Radley Yeldar, 85% of the Forbes 100 Most Valuable Brands actively communicate about their diversity and inclusion (D&I) efforts. However, 45% of them are falling back on D&I clichés along the way. In our webinar, Radley Yeldar’s Brand Director, Jennifer, goes into more detail. You’ll also hear from Robin, Head of Digital Inclusion at AbilityNet. He shares how website accessibility supports inclusive marketing by making sure everyone can access your digital content.
5 principles of inclusive marketing
Inclusive marketing campaigns are true to the world around us. They reflect real people in real situations in the real world. Making sure that your campaigns truly reflect society helps every person to feel connected to your brand. You can do this by being mindful in the visual references you make. Choose images that avoid stereotypes. In fact, choose those that go against them. By openly challenging existing stereotypes and bias, your campaigns can make a positive difference to our world.
Diversity in marketing and advertising is about being inclusive of everyone. That means representing all forms of diversity. From race and culture, to gender and appearance, to age and ability, and the list goes on. It’s important to be representative of underrepresented groups, so that everyone can see themselves in your campaigns. This matters, especially because underrepresentation in marketing and advertising is still a problem.
Research into Facebook adverts found that people with disabilities featured in only 1.1% adverts. Yet globally, 15% of people have some form of cognitive, emotional or physical disability. By practicing inclusive marketing, your campaigns can help these groups feel more included.
Being mindful of diversity and inclusion in advertising and marketing is great. Challenging stereotypes and working to promote a view of the world that’s representative is brilliant. But to do so authentically, you must take time to truly understand different diversities and cultures. If you’re representing a minority group, spend time learning about their personal experiences and opinions. If you’re honoring a minority culture, take time to understand the traditions and history. By doing so, your brand can authentically represent diverse groups. You can help the voices of the underrepresented be heard. You can positively impact the conversation.
As with the visuals used in marketing campaigns, language and tone is equally powerful. Tone has the power to attract and please, but it also has the power to offend. When writing marketing copy, consider what you want to achieve and make sure your messaging follows the same intent. Do the same with the language that you choose. Use words, phrases and metaphors appropriately.
Inclusive marketing isn’t just about creating marketing campaigns with inclusive principles in mind. It’s also about taking a step back to think ‘Are our campaigns having the impact we intend?’ Making sure your marketing campaigns are being perceived as representative, inclusive and welcoming is important too. Talk to your audiences and ask them how you’re doing. Let them know you’re making an effort and want to get it right. It’ll have a positive impact for everyone.
“It’s ok if you don’t have it all figured out yet. You want to get it right. Don’t wait until everything is perfect to start communicating your efforts - communicating the journey is just as important, and if not more powerful than saying ‘look how great we are!’”
Diversity & inclusion hub: World Federation of Advertisers
To support organisations to be more inclusive in their marketing, the World Federation of Advertisers have created a hub of resources. At the hub you’ll find examples of good practices, and much more.
Webinar: Grow traffic & boost brand reputation with inclusive marketing
In this on-demand webinar we’re joined by Ceri Balston, Head of Digital at Scope.
As a disability equality charity, Scope is dedicated to diversity and inclusion. Listen as Ceri shares how to create digital campaigns inclusive of people with disabilities.
Google: “We have to be all in”
Google realises that a single person sees almost 2 million ads per year. They know that means almost 2 million ways the advertising industry could be helping people see themselves positively reflected. That’s why inclusive marketing matters to them.
They review their own ads, criticise them, and work to improve inclusion in every campaign. They partner with diversity experts to help them get it right. From elevating the Black community, to tackling assumptions around mental health they aim to make a difference. Not only that, they want to support fellow marketers to do the same. Recently, they launched an inclusive marketing toolkit. In it, they share everything they’ve learned over the years, to help the marketing industry get it right.
ThirdLove: “78 sizes, 1 perfect fit.”
ThirdLove is a truly inclusive lingerie brand. Their products are made for real women. Their marketing campaigns are targeted at real women.
On their website, their visuals include women of all ages, sizes and from all backgrounds. Their content includes phrases like ‘We do comfort, you do you’. Speaking to their target audience, their CEO, Heidi Zak, says “To all women everywhere, we see you, and we hear you. Your reality is enough. To each, her own.” With their marketing campaigns, they’re working to normalise diversity.
“We believe the future is building a brand for every woman, regardless of her shape, size, age, ethnicity, gender identity or sexual orientation. This shouldn’t be seen as groundbreaking, it should be the norm." - Heidi Zak, CEO and Co-Founder, ThirdLove.
Not only are they getting it right with inclusive marketing, they’re encouraging other brands to do the same. Read their open letter to Victoria’s Secret.
Nike: “Breaking barriers”
Nike is well-known for marketing campaigns that challenge biased perceptions of an athlete. They recognise that ‘if you have a body, you are an athlete’, and they use their campaigns to feature stories about diverse athletes.
From their ‘Find your greatness’ campaign, to their ‘Until we all Win’ campaign, through to their ‘Toughest athletes’ campaign, they’re inclusive of all groups. They even create products that are inclusive and support a diverse sporting industry. They’re now also working hard to improve diversity and inclusion in their workforce. Their 2025 vision shares their 5-year roadmap to a more diverse and inclusive company culture. This shows that no matter where you are with inclusive marketing, there’s always room for improvement.
Hallmark: “Share more merry”
Hallmark’s ‘Share more merry’ campaign is centered around a young girl with a hearing impairment. They show relatable Christmas traditions but tell the story through underrepresented groups.
Not only that, the entire dialogue is signed through the whole advert and the advert is also captioned. Their campaign recognises diversity, and promotes inclusion through content that’s accessible to everyone.
Whirlpool: “Care counts”
Whirlpool’s Care Counts Laundry Program aims to improve equality to education by reducing one barrier - access to clean clothes.
They recognised that many children skip school because of this, so they install washers and dryers in schools to help. As an issue that impacts their consumers, they’re using their brand to raise awareness around the issue. Their marketing campaign gives a voice to the impacted community and serves to educate others.
Essex Police: “We Value Difference”
Inclusive marketing includes all types of marketing, including recruitment campaigns. As we said before, with inclusive marketing must come an inclusive culture. That means your recruitment campaigns should be inclusive too.
The Essex Police ‘We Value Difference’ recruitment campaign aims to ‘dispel the myths that you have to be a certain ‘type’ of person to be a police officer’. With their slogan, ‘One team. One family. One county. One force’, they highlight that their workforce is simply made up of different people, with the same values. With a focus on shared values, the campaign invites candidates from all walks of life - and really highlights their commitment to diversity, inclusion and equality.