by Joey Phoenix
Director of Brand Strategy and Innovation
March 16, 2021
Creating an inclusive brand that makes room for anyone who wants to participate is an intentional and continual process. And making the pledge to create a more inclusive business (and marketing strategy) isn’t something you do once and call it a day, but rather an ongoing and evolving commitment to making sure that the door is open to everyone in a way that’s equitable and accessible.
As a white-led organization, Creative Collective is also constantly learning how to do this better, and we not only welcome feedback from the individuals, small businesses, and communities we serve, but we have the privilege of being able to use our platform to be able to share resources and teach what we have learned thus far.
An important note before we get into the tips and tricks: The biggest takeaway is that equitable and inclusive marketing is more than just images and statements. In fact, many potential customers and followers will view an external-only “inclusive” business presence with no policy changes to back it up as virtue signaling, or the practice publicly expressing opinions or ideas intended to demonstrate one’s good character or moral standing. Basically, it scans as inauthentic unless you mean it and perform the actions to back it up.
We could potentially dedicate dozens of articles to teaching how to do this well and still only just crack the surface – because on this topic there is a lot to think about.
But for now, we’re going to focus on inclusive language and small ways to make your marketing inclusive. However, we strongly encourage you to do further work towards integrating these practices, and the meaning behind them, into everything your small business does.
Language, on its own, isn’t enough without the actions to back it up. But it’s a start.
What is Inclusive Language?
Language is a constantly growing and developing tool for connection and communication. Inclusive language is a manner of speaking and communicating with the primary purpose of including everybody in the conversation.
If you’re unfamiliar with inclusive language as a concept, this frequently updated inclusive language guide might be a place to start – but keep in mind that due to the ever-changing nature of language, guides like this will never be complete.
For example, Twitch got into social trouble recently for using the term “womxn” in one of their marketing campaigns. Up until the early 2010’s, the term was used to remove the “men” from “women” and signal an inclusion of transgender and non-binary women in a simple way. In the last couple of years, however, this term has evolved and is now seen to exclude communities it was originally trying to include.
Related Reading: Anti-Racism, Equity, and Accessibility Resources
Small Ways to Start Making Your Marketing More Inclusive
Editor’s Note: This list is meant to be used as a launch pad for your own research, because it’s impossible to reduce these themes to a bulleted list. I deeply encourage you to do your own digging and start engaging with this work in an enduring an integrative way. If you find it difficult to understand or even engage with this material and would like assistance, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Here are some things to think about.
Include Pronouns in Email Signatures, Zoom Meetings, and in Introductions. Here is a quick guide to Pronouns, Orientation, and Identities if the concept is new to you.
Give some thought to accessibility. Because this is a heady subject: start with the Web Accessibility Initiative’s Introduction to Web Accessibility.
When celebrating diversity, embrace intersectionality. Intersectionality refers to the overlap between a person’s experiences, acknowledging that people are no one thing, but a combination of their identity alongside social and economic aspects. Some of these aspects include race, ability, gender, privilege, socioeconomic status, and education – but there are many more.
Inclusive marketing is ongoing process and, in many ways, an exercise in humility. But being easily corrected and going out of your way to include as many people is possible is a step towards brand respectability that’s authentic and long-lasting.
IS THERE A SUBJECT YOU WISH WE WOULD COVER? LET US KNOW BY SENDING AN EMAIL TO JOEYPHOENIX@CREATIVECOLLECTIVEMA.COM
The Creative Collective Business Program is a great step for those who want to get plugged in to creative business and networking opportunities, but another thing we offer is advice, feedback, and assistance when planning out marketing strategies. Don’t know where to start when creating your own content? We’re here to help. Click here to find out how our business program can meet your needs.