Chase Koeneke | Associate Creative Director

Yes, we all know that we’re in the midst of a pandemic, but that doesn’t mean we should wash out the rainbows. As the month of June quickly approaches, brands continue to look for impactful ways to show their support to the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning, Intersex, Allied/Asexual (LGBTQIA+) community. 

Being a queer-friendly brand can help you grow exponentially. In fact, 78 percent of LGBT adults and their friends say they would switch to a known LGBT-friendly brand, according to Beyond the Rainbow

Consider one of the most well-known spirits brands in the world — Absolut Vodka — which arguably built its brand on the backs of its relationship with the LGBTQIA+ community over the past 40 years

Although you shouldn’t limit your marketing to the queer community to just one month, there is significance as to why June is so important. It was chosen as Pride Month to commemorate the 1969 Stonewall Riots — a response to police raids on the Stonewall Inn which saw Marsha P. Johnson, a Black transgender woman, set off what has become a pivotal moment in LGBTQIA+ history. 

Fast forward almost 51 years and the LGBTQIA+ community is still fighting to obtain the same human rights as others. This is why campaigns that embrace our authenticity are so important. 

When brands stand for a cause, like LGBTQIA+ rights, people within the community pay attention. And with a buying power of over $3.7 Trillion, this community has options and choices on which brands to support.  

But slapping a pride flag or rainbows on every piece of marketing collateral or piece of merchandise is not the way to win over the support of the community. Not to mention, with many pride parades and celebrations being canceled this year (to limit large crowds/gatherings), it’s important for brands to find new unique ways to show their support. 

Before you jump right into planning there are a few things you should know first: 

  • Every human within the LGBTQIA+ community is unique in their own way. From sexual orientation to race or religion, each person represents a complex being. That means when developing a marketing plan your brand should enlist as many voices and identities as possible to avoid creating a linear cookie-cutter campaign that falls flat.
  • Pronouns matter. If you’re spotlighting a member of the community or writing social media copy, using the correct pronouns (he/him/his vs. she/her/hers vs. they/them, etc.) matters. So be sure to ask questions and get it right the first time. Those who care will notice and those who don’t, won’t know the difference.
  • Support starts from the inside. If your company/organization does not have queer-friendly policies and support in place before you target the LGBTQIA+ community, don’t waste your time or money. You have to walk the walk, otherwise, the community will see right through you.
  • Money doesn’t solve everything. Yes, donating money to local and national organizations helps, but it’s not all you can do. Donating time/resourcing and learning how you and your employees can become allies supports your queer siblings even more.

So how do you develop an effective marketing strategy for pride month and beyond? Try these tips:

  • Don’t “Rainbow-Wash”. In other words, don’t paint rainbows and unicorns and glitter on everything. Be tactful when choosing images to represent the community.
  • Make LGTBQIA+ representation consistent in imagery. Like the point above, we don’t need to see the lesbian/gay couple front and center. Show us that we’re part of the entire storyline and not just a token-couple to check a box.
  • Represent different members of the community. Many times ads don’t show the spectrum of individuals (e.g. those who are gender-neutral) as their authentic selves. Be intentional about accurate representation.
  • Allow the community to tell their stories. The most impactful content will be the authentic experiences of the individuals who have lived them. So instead of trying to create the narrative in your content, connect with people, and shed light on his/her/their stories.

In the end, the keys to successfully engaging the LGBTQIA+ community is to show respect, learn from their lead, and take the time to understand who we are. The more your brand supports the community the more you’ll get back. 

So as we move into Pride Month remember, there’s more than one way to celebrate (and market to us). Do your research and your marketing campaigns will see a better return.

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