A Roadmap To Creating An Inclusive Brand

April 26, 2024
5 min read

Creating an inclusive brand means making sure that everyone is considered and represented in the decisions you make — from internal processes to marketing and beyond. Inclusive brands connect authentically with more people.

Inclusive brands also create stronger connections with their customers. Both of these factors help brands build a foundation for growth and create customers for life. 

The world is a vibrant place with many different types of people. Even within your target audience exists a multitude of individuals with various demographics, socioeconomic factors, and perspectives.

Making sure that all of them can interact with your business is paramount to your success and longevity in the market. 

People putting their hands in a circle

If you want to know how to create an inclusive brand, this blog is for you.

We’ve created a roadmap that every new business (and even established businesses) can reference to make sure they are creating a brand that considers diversity in all forms and effectively represents that in both their internal and external efforts.

Read below for more!

Build a Diverse Team

One of the first steps towards creating a truly inclusive brand is building a diverse team of people. 

Why? Because diverse teams are smarter teams. 

Bringing together people from a wide range of backgrounds, each with their own unique lived experiences and perspectives helps your brand approach decisions in the smartest way possible.

Five people in a board room watching a women on a TV presenting

Teams that include unique perspectives and skills are able to innovate and develop out-of-the-box solutions that resonate with more people. Teams that lack diversity often struggle to create well-rounded solutions or relate to their customers. 

Del Johnson from Backstage Capital, a firm that has invested millions in diverse companies says it well…

“By bringing in the talents of those who have traditionally been overlooked, you unlock true creative expression — and build an organization able to check its biases.”

(Read his entire quote in full here). 

If you neglect diversity when building your team, you end up leaving a huge blindspot that will make it far more difficult to check your own internal biases and create solutions that make sense for everyone

Create Inclusive Policies Within Your Business 

An inclusive workplace means crafting policies that ensure everyone on your team is treated equally and with respect.

These values should be incorporated into your mission statement. They should also be woven throughout your internal policies. 

People sitting around laptops

That means giving employees the right tools to do their work and communicate effectively with their coworkers and leaders. It also means creating a safe work culture where everyone feels valued and heard. 

The Canadian Media Fund created a list of resources that provide support and training for businesses wanting to create more inclusive workplaces and policies. Check it out here

Make Sure Your Website Is Accessible

Inclusivity means making sure everyone can interact with your business. Creating an accessible website is an important first step in that effort. 

Website accessibility means making sure that your website is usable for all visitors, including those with a disability or impairment (which the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates to be 16% of the global population).

This includes everything from the design of your website to the tools and technologies integrated throughout. 

Two woman working together in front of a laptop

Website accessibility is a necessity. Not only is it important legally, but it also strengthens your brand and improves your SEO. Beyond that, it demonstrates your commitment as a brand to inclusivity.

By making accessibility a central component of your website design, you show everyone who visits your website that you care about their experience. 

Also Read: Web Accessibility: Why it Matters in Canada in 2024

Go The Extra Mile On Social Media

Social media accessibility means that when you create content, you are taking the right steps to ensure everyone can enjoy it. 

Non-accessible content can include everything from a lack of captions on a noisy video to accidentally misusing a word in a caption. Truly inclusive brands create content that everyone can engage with. 

Someone sitting in front of their laptop with Facebook open

Below are a few easy steps you can take to make sure your social media content is inclusive and accessible.

1: Adding Alt Text To Your Pics

Alternative text, also known as “alt text,” is a short yet detailed description of an image that screen readers can use to describe it to someone with a visual impairment.

Never created alt text before? Easy peasy. We recommend keeping your alt text short and sweet (125 characters or less). Provide as much detail as you think is relevant and include a keyword or two if it makes sense. 

2: Include Captions on Your Videos

We recommend always including closed captions on your social media videos. This ensures that everyone can watch and enjoy your content, including those with hearing or cognitive impairments, someone learning a new language or someone watching your video in public who might want to keep their volume off.

Captions also boost your SEO, too, and we love that. 

Pro Tip: make sure your captions are easy to read. Include a text box background or use contrasting colours so people can view them easily. 

Check out our Instagram video here for an example. 

3: Use Inclusive Language

Inclusive language is about making sure everyone who consumes your content feels respected and included. 

Not sure if a phrase or word you plan on using is appropriate? Consult with a range of perspectives on your team and educate yourself. Be curious about your audience and learn their preferred terms. 

There are dozens of inclusive writing resources online including this one from the Government of Canada. 

Pro Tip: always use people-first language which emphasizes the person before a disability. For example, instead of calling a person “wheel-chair bound” you should say “a person with mobility challenges.”

Also Read: TikTok Guide For Beginners

Showcase Diversity in Your Marketing

People want to see themselves represented in marketing. Especially from brands they engage with. This means representing the broad spectrum of people that purchase from you, including different ages, classes, races, sexual orientations and genders.

Three young people standing outside talking

Google recently found that 64% of consumers took action after seeing marketing they considered to be inclusive. Similarly, an Adobe study found that 38% of people were more likely to trust brands that showed diversity in their marketing.

These findings further support the idea that including everyone in your marketing is not just the right thing to do; it’s a smart business move as well. 

Showcasing diversity in your marketing means including a diverse swath of people in your imagery as well as being inclusive with the language you use. 

5 hands from different people all laying on a wooden desk

When choosing assets for any of your marketing initiatives (blogs, social media graphics, print advertising, etc.), make sure you include diverse people with a broad range of characteristics. 

Also Read: How To Market To Other Businesses (And Other B2B Marketing Tips)

Co-Create With Your Community

The business-customer relationship is no longer simply transactional. Your customers are people first and they want to feel heard and included in the decisions you make.

This means regularly checking in with your community.

You can do this in a variety of ways including asking questions through your social media channels, sending out surveys, requesting reviews and reaching out directly.

Ask questions like…

  • Which of your products and services do they enjoy the most? 
  • What are common issues they have with your business? 
  • What are the current pain points in their life? 
  • How can your business make their lives easier? 
  • What would they like to see from your business?

Hearing a broad spectrum of feedback will also help you create more diverse and inclusive solutions to problems. Regular check-ins further your understanding of the market and help you approach choices from a more varied and informed perspective, and that is one of the fundamental differences between an inclusive brand and one that isn’t. 

The brands that appear out of step or unaligned with their community are usually the brands that don’t check in or routinely engage with their people. Brands that create opportunities for open dialogue with their audience understand how to operate inclusively. 

Customers who feel involved and considered by their favourite brands become customers for life. 

Think of it this way — it costs five times more to attract a new customer than it would to retain an existing customer. Checking in with your community regularly is just good business sense. 

Stand Up For What You Believe In

Brand values are the core beliefs that your business stands for and they define how your business operates. Brand values are only as good as your actions, though. In other words… Practice what you preach.

Rainbow Washing is a great example. The term was created by the LGBTQIAP+ community and is meant to call out brands for only using the rainbow symbol when it feels like the popular thing to do.

A quilt with the words 'you belong' on it

That means plastering the flag all over your marketing during Pride Month but not taking real steps to support the community. 

If you want to support a marginalized group or movement, make sure that support is backed by real action from your brand. That includes things like donating money and volunteering your time. 

Knowing who you are and what you stand for should be at the core of every decision you make — in both your business and your marketing.

And older man smiling talking to another man with down syndrome

Truly supporting inclusion because you believe in it will help differentiate your brand from your competitors. 

Trust us — people can tell the difference between inclusion for the sake of business and inclusion because it’s the right thing to do. 

Also Read: 4 Essential Rules For Branding Your Non Profit

Have Questions About Inclusive Branding?

We are a remote creative branding and website design agency dedicated to helping entrepreneurs and forward-thinking brands transform the world. 

That includes helping businesses make smart and inclusive decisions when crafting their brands. Our services include creating strategic brand identities, accessible websites, organic social media content and beyond. 

Want to learn more about Spark & Pony and how we can help you? Click here to view our services and be sure to follow us on Instagram and LinkedIn.

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