As creatives and marketers, we spend a lot of time thinking about the relationship between people and brands. Hours of collating data, trying to determine whether a particular ad, campaign, color, or headline is a great success or a failure (or worse-completely neutral, revealing little value).
We may become very fascinated, trying to get into the minds of customers and understand them on a deeper psychological level that they can’t even understand.
I spend a lot of time reading blogs and books, or attending webinars, trying to understand why This Is not that.
“Why is the click-through rate of this button copy higher than this?”
“Why do people seem to like this background color more than others?”
Usually, the author or webinar host will refer to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs when explaining the relationship between psychology and marketing.
If you are not familiar, the hierarchy of needs is a framework proposed by Abraham Maslow, which divides people’s motivations into five basic categories: physiology, safety, love, respect, and self-realization. It is also conveniently represented by a rainbow.
The framework is simple, but the idea here is complicated. Although it has already spent a lot of time studying each of these categories in depth, today, I will spend time in the middle part- Love and belonging.
Cultivate a sense of belonging
Have you ever appeared alone at a party? too frightening. If you are like me, your first step is to go straight to the bar. After that, I usually find myself looking for someone I know or someone I seem to be familiar with in the room. When I see a representative, I immediately feel more comfortable. It moved me from the need for security to the need for belonging.
So what does this relationship between the brand and its customers look like?
You may have noticed the recent trend of brands changing their logos to various LQBTQIA logos for Pride Month. LinkedIn, Spotify, Airbnb, and many other companies have joined this trend.
Other brands have also released rainbow limited edition products, such as Vans, Apple, Skittles and Adidas. Some brands even sponsor proud content on streaming services such as Hulu.
Don’t get me wrong, the more representatives the better. But tolerance is more than just raising the rainbow flag within a month. Tolerance requires empathy, and empathy requires understanding.
I welcome all types of tolerance, but if you want to build lasting relationships with certain communities, you must use our psychological needs as all human beings to gain a sense of belonging and equality. For most brands, this level of representation is still very rare.
Look at these two advertisements and tell me the difference.
Although this ad is cute and representative, it still has a punchline about homosexuality.
This advertisement has nothing to do with homosexuality. This is about being a family. You can easily switch this couple to any gender or orientation. It is for a couple, not a gay couple.
Why not write a great script and actor, any type of person? Why restrict yourself to saying that these must be specific ways? I always find it very interesting. As marketers, we feel that we have to write specific things for specific people instead of focusing on a great story or punch line. This is hard enough in itself.
You need visibility and representativeness, but to some extent you don’t frame queer communities as outsiders, but as people. Just like everyone else.
From a person-to-person level, this is important-try to see past stereotypes and misunderstandings about what you think a person is like, and really understand who they are and what is important to them.
The need for belonging and love (from Maslow’s hierarchy of needs) is only when we, as marketers, take additional steps to see and understand that all people just want to be treated as equal and not as props or checkboxes. Be satisfied.
Small steps towards inclusiveness
If you are a marketer and are looking for more ways to ensure your inclusiveness, then you can do the following things:
- Review your website and other marketing materials to ensure that the photos or illustrations represent an equal balance for everyone in real situations.
- Include pronouns in your profile and signature (if you don’t already have one).
- If there is feedback about inclusiveness and diversity, hit back at customers, managers, and colleagues.
tip: If you are dealing with people who want to talk about numbers, get them to Google “pink money” and LQBTQIA’s rising purchasing power.
- Share your platform with LQBTQIA community members throughout the year, not just look for them in June. Work with them to deal with things outside of LGBTQIA content, giving them space to talk about passions or areas of expertise. For a young professional, there is nothing more inspiring than seeing someone who has performed badly in their career and happens to be out.
- Most importantly, check your own biases as a leader to ensure that you are leading and motivating the surrounding team to care about these issues.
Extra credits: Visit your local Human Rights Committee Branch and spend some time with people working there. Understand what LGBTQIA is still striving for and what support they need from local businesses.