The last decade has made giant leaps in diversity & inclusion initiatives, especially for the LGBTQIA community. For the month of June, many companies switch from their traditional monochrome logo to a rainbow-colored design, particularly on social media platforms like Facebook or LinkedIn. While this rush of public support for LGBTQIA communities is a popular way of engaging in Pride Month celebrations, companies must consider how their actions reaffirm their pro-LGBTQIA branding.
First, it’s important to understand the purpose of the rainbow branding used throughout Pride month. By implementing a temporary rainbow branded logo change that showcases the colorful LGBTQIA Pride flag, companies can generate discussions about discrimination and visibility for members of the queer community. For a company sporting a Pride month logo, the rainbow design serves as a reminder to consumers, employees, and associates that the company values LGBTQIA inclusion and representation.
The Pride month logo design is most common among B2C companies who are trying to capture the attention of consumers. In this day and age, corporate responsibility and values are critical factors in purchasing decisions. Millennials are 32% more likely to do business with a company that openly supports the queer community. However, many large B2B companies also serve to benefit from showing support for the LGBTQIA community. The rainbow logo signals to employees and partners that the company is an ally to the community. Inclusive values attract diverse talent, improve employee welfare, and increase business across numerous demographics. About 15% of Gen-Z adults in the US identify as queer, a growing target market in corporate America.
Some of the largest tech, finance, and consulting companies—like Microsoft, IBM, Bank of America, and Deloitte—have used rainbow logos throughout the month of June to show support for the LGBTQIA community. Even prominent federal contractors, like Leidos and GDIT, have joined the display of pro-LGBTQIA branding. Corporate support for the LGBTQIA+ community during Pride Month is a major step forward for the LGBTQIA community compared to past suppression and ignorance. But beneath the rose-colored glasses, the reality is a flash of rainbow branding is not the end goal of pride month. Companies need to provide more than just temporary logos in support of the queer community.
Take Skittles as an example, an extremely colorful brand naturally in its everyday marketing decided to go in the opposite visual direction to completely greyscale packaging and marketing materials. This campaign went viral when Skittles announced they decided to give up their rainbow to ‘celebrate the one that matters.’ (aka the Pride rainbow symbolizing the LGBTQ+ community). Partnering with GLAAD, an American non-governmental media monitoring organization, they gave six talented artists within the LGBTQ+ community to create pack designs that represent how they see the rainbow. Special edition pride packs were sold with $1 per pack donated to GLAAD.
Because of the clear economic benefits of promoting Pride month, this can be perceived as an exploitation of social initiatives and conversations as a means to reach business goals. In this instance, the use of the rainbow flag in marketing materials, without the actions to support the queer community in meaningful ways, is referred to as rainbow-washing. Before a company considers implementing a new rainbow logo or a Pride month campaign, they need to reflect on what other actions the company can take to support the LGBTQIA community in meaningful ways:
- Donate a portion of business proceeds to LGBTQIA-friendly charities or in support of pro-LGBTQIA legislation.
- Show support for the queer community year-round, not just through the month of June with supportive messaging and practices.
- Ensure representation of LGBTQIA persons in marketing and advertising.
- Refuse business in countries or states with discriminatory laws against LGBTQIA persons.
- Show representation of LGBTQIA persons in positions of leadership, like on the Board of Directors or within the C-Suite.
- Provide support and protection for LGBTQIA employees and their families.
- Educate yourself and those around you on the history of pride month before using the circumstance for profit.
While not every company can achieve all the points listed above, marketing and branding alone do not affirm the allyship of a company. Instead, marketing should be used as a means of promoting the other good works that a company does in the LGBTQIA community.
If your company is a true ally to the queer community, but you’re struggling to convey these values through your messaging or advertising, contact an agency like Bluetext that specializes in digital marketing. Whether looking for a refreshed pride month logo or a representative campaign for the month of June, Bluetext can help you create materials that get the right message across.