Pride Month Marketing: How Brands Can Avoid Rainbow-Washing

This month marks the 53rd anniversary of the first Pride march. June has become a time when brands and companies spotlight their inclusivity. And in true marketer form,  it’s also been a time when brands create and market pride-specific products. 

This year, more than ever, brand conversation around Pride has reached a divisive peak. This doesn’t mean that brands should shy away from discussing their allyship. It’s time for brands to consider their audience and work out if they’re ok with losing the favor of the homophobes or transphobes with the most extreme responses.  Brands should use extra efforts to protect their communities – e.g. adding additional moderation efforts to social or preparing messaging in advance.  

Although it may sound surprising, sometimes it’s okay to skip Pride Month. In fact, not jumping on the Pride Month bandwagon doesn’t mean your organization isn’t an ally. 

So, how can a brand create genuine allyship and stand out in the rainbow-washed landscape for every Pride Month to come? Here are some steps to consider:

Support LGBTQIA+ employees and partners internally. Organizations must first guarantee that their employees can be open and authentic in all internal spaces before they even think about outwardly claiming allyship. Be sensitive and cautious about making diverse employees into poster examples, and instead, provide them with opportunities to celebrate their community on their own terms.  

Involve intersectional LGBTQIA+ creators all year. Social media is more than just a channel for amplifying activations done elsewhere, and true social-first content still needs to be consistent to be effective. While inclusion is important, suddenly, including LGBTQIA+ influencers and creators one month out of the year isn’t the right look. Instead, involving these creators in other campaigns throughout the year gives a brand a platform to stand on for launching a more significant Pride campaign.

Anytime you promote and involve vulnerable communities, be prepared to defend them. Proper moderation is critical for following through and upholding your support on social media, as well as making sure LGBTQIA+ fans and followers are actually able to comfortably and safely engage with your content. Clearing and blocking harmful comments is the bare minimum, but responding when appropriate with definitive support and reiterating organizational stances on allyship will go above and beyond with vulnerable communities. 

Don’t view Pride and allyship as an isolated, once-a-year event. Support can and should happen at any time and not be relegated to dedicated events. If your brand chooses to keep a low profile on social during Pride Month this year and your fans want to see more, you can launch a Pride campaign in any month of the year, in August, November, or January!

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