Not so long ago, most brands shied away from taking a stance on political or social issues. They’d rather remain neutral than risk controversy, even if taking that risk could ultimately result in a significant contribution to the greater good. After all, good branding has the power to provoke thought, pique emotions and even lead real change.
People have made it clear that they prefer brands that aren’t afraid to take a stance, with 70 percent of consumers stating it’s an important factor when making a choice. But, with shifting mindsets and politically and socially conscious generations at the helm, the bar has been raised on what it means to “take a stance,” pushing past the superficial and demanding tangible impact. So, what does that mean for your brand as we enter PRIDE season?
Go Beyond the Rainbow.
For goodness’ sake, don’t just slap a rainbow on it. This has been the go-to move in the past for appearing to be “part of the conversation,” but at this point, it comes off as a performative cash-grab and people can smell the disingenuous attempt at allyship from a mile away. That’s not to say that rainbows and phrases like “Love is Love” aren’t welcome – it just means your brand has to dig a little deeper to show your commitment to sparking an effect.
Connect with the Whole Community – Past, Present, and Future.
To truly connect with people through your Pride messaging, it’s important to understand the history of the LGBTQIA+ community, honor the symbolism associated with it, and be purposeful with your intentions to cultivate a more equitable future.
NIKE has celebrated the LGBTQIA+ community by elevating the voices of LGBTQIA+ athletes through their BeTrue campaign for years. They took it a step further in 2020 with the complementary “This is Our Time” campaign and inclusive “Until We All Win” tagline. These efforts committed NIKE to intersectional equality and further educated consumers by honoring the Black roots of the Pride movement.
“As we march together toward a more equal and just future, it’s important to remember our past. Let’s not forget that the Pride movement itself began as a protest. The historic Stonewall uprisings in 1969 played a key role in liberating the LGBTQIA+ community and allowing their demands for equality to be heard — and a number of the heroes who catalyzed this movement were transgender people of color, namely Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera,” NIKE said when announcing the campaign, which was embodied across platforms by six trailblazing intersectional LGBTQIA+ athletes.
Put Your Money Where Your Marketing Is.
One thing that hasn’t changed, and likely never will: Money. Talks. Tying your Pride messaging or limited-edition Pride packaging to a cause that directly benefits the LGBTQIA+ community is always appreciated.
Barefoot Wines made the most of their Pride marketing by creating beautiful, limited-edition bottles in 2020 that didn’t just look good – they did good, too. In a year when Pride celebrations were forced to reconfigure due to pandemic lockdowns, the brand wanted to create a safe yet impactful way to celebrate. Their rainbow-colored Rosé Bubbly bottles released last June benefited the foundation, Free Mom Hugs, which provides meaningful support to members of LGBTQIA+ community who may not have an affirmative family or network of their own.
As we work for a more equitable future for everyone, it goes without saying that being truly thoughtful with your cause messaging is a big step in the right direction toward real advocacy. When motivated by the intention of making a meaningful impact, this comes naturally. It’s when we are motivated by the fear of being left behind or being left out of the conversation altogether that we start to lean into performative allyship and look for quick fixes like slapping a rainbow up and calling it a day. So, take a beat, support the community, and create Pride messaging of which you can be proud.