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If Brands Aren’t Thinking About Diversity, They’re Missing A Big Opportunity

If Brands Aren’t Thinking About Diversity, They’re Missing A Big Opportunity
B&T Magazine
Edited by B&T Magazine

In this opinion piece, brand strategist and director of Quip Brands, Keeva Stratton (pictured right), reflects on why campaigns should always centre diversity.

Last week I hosted a panel at Changing the Ratio, on ‘The Invisibility of Disability’—with WeFlex founder Tommy Trout and his brother (and inspiration for the business), Jackson Trout.

WeFlex is a start-up that’s looking to make the fitness industry—and gyms, specifically—more inclusive for everyone, whether you have a physical disability or neurodiversity.

During the panel what was discovered was that despite more than 4 million Australians having a disability, people with disabilities are often only seen in advertising and marketing for a not-for-profit or as Paralympians.

Sadly, when looking for stock images to represent the essence of their new brand, it became clear to the WeFlex founders just how excluded disability is from basic marketing resources. And in discussing the erasure of disability from everyday images, like advertising, Tommy and Jackson revealed how harmful it can be, too.

What can brands and marketers do?

Making diversity part of every brand’s DNA is something we believe in strongly at Quip Brands. To do so, we’ve developed five important checkpoints that every campaign should pass before it’s approved.

  1. Have diverse decision-makers. Whether it’s your board, or your executive creative team, unless your decision-makers are diverse, your campaigns will struggle to be truly inclusive. This includes clients, too.
  2. Use language with care. How we label people has a profound impact, so it’s vital when scripting or copywriting that every word is checked with a sensitivity lens.
  3. Check your biases and your blind spots. We all have them—whether they are cultural, age-based, gender or sexuality, we are inherently biased, and must be active in addressing our own.
  4. Speak to, not for, minorities. Any time you can gain direct insights, you should. And, if you’re targeting a specific audience, engaging an expert in that space is essential.
  5. Empower through image. Whether it’s during casting or in the way your images are composed, it’s important that your visuals elevate and provide authentic representations of different identities.

No more tokens, just true representation.

Australia is an ageing population; more than half of us are female; we are truly multicultural; our first nations people deserve better; we have significant LGBTQIA+ communities; nearly one in five of us have a disability; and we come in all shapes and sizes—yet the majority of our on-screen talent, our advertising and branding, continues to present a very white, able-bodied, young, thin, heteronormative view.

WeFlex is a brand that truly lives its values. They’ve ensured diversity is a key focus of board recruitment and have held service design sessions with people with a variety of disabilities, to make sure their voices are heard.

As the professional community widely responsible for forming a normalised image of Australia, we all have a responsibility to actively address the lack of diversity in our content, talent and campaigns, too.

That’s why being part of events like Changing the Ratio is such an honour, and hopefully, going forward we will see many diversities, including disability, more appropriately represented.

If you need help, we’re here.

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