What Inclusion Really Means: Pride Month Edition

As creative people and marketers, we spend a lot of time thinking about the relationship between people and brand. Hours of sorting through data trying to determine if a particular ad, campaign, color, or headline was a huge success or a massive flop (or worse—totally neutral, revealing very little of value). 

We can get really obsessed, trying to get in the mind of the customer and understand them on a deeper psychological level that they don’t even understand.

I spend a lot of time reading blogs and books, or attending webinars, trying to understand why this and not that.

“Why did this button copy have a better click rate than this one?”

“Why did people seem to prefer this background color so much more than the other?”

Often, authors or webinar hosts will reference Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs when explaining the relationship between psychology and marketing.

If you’re not familiar, the Hierarchy of Needs is a framework by Abraham Maslow which theorizes that people are motivated by five basic categories of needs: physiological, safety, love, esteem, and self-actualization. It’s also, conveniently, represented in a rainbow.

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The framework is simple, but the ideas here are complex. While much time has been spent diving into each of these categories, today, I’m going to spend time on that middle piece — love and belonging.

Cultivating a sense of belonging

Ever shown up to a party by yourself? It’s terrifying. If you are like me, your first move is to make a beeline towards the bar. After that, I usually find myself scanning the room for someone I know or someone who looks familiar to me. I feel instantly more comfortable in situations when I see representation. It moves me from safety needs to Netherlands WhatsApp Number List belonging needs.  Best database provider | Whatsapp number lists

So what does this relationship look like between brands and their customers?

You have probably noticed the recent trend for brands changing their logos to the various LQBTQIA flags for pride month. LinkedIn, Spotify, Airbnb, and loads of others have jumped in on this trend.

Other brands have released rainbow limited edition products like Vans, Apple, Skittles, and Adidas. Some brands are even sponsoring pride content on streaming services like Hulu.

Don’t get me wrong, the more representation the better. But, inclusion is more than throwing up a rainbow flag for a month. Inclusion requires empathy, and empathy requires understanding.

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I am welcoming of all types of inclusion, but if you are looking to create lasting relationships with certain communities, you must tap into the psychological need we all have as humans to belong and feel like equals. This level of representation is still very rare for most brands.

Watch these two commercials and tell me what is different.


This ad, while cute and representative, still has the punchline around being gay.

Wells Fargo:


This ad is not about being gay. It’s about being a family. You could Netherlands WhatsApp Number List easily swap the couple out for any gender or orientation. It was written with a couple in mind, not a gay couple.

Why not just write a great script and cast people, of any kind? Why limit yourself by saying these have to be a specific way? I have always found it interesting that, as marketers, we feel like we have to write specific things for specific people rather than focusing on a great story or punchline. That’s hard enough on its own.

You need visibility and representation, but in a way that doesn’t frame the queer community as outsiders, but as people. Just like everyone else.

This is important from a human-to-human level — trying to see past stereotypes and misconceived notions of what you think a person is like, and actually getting to know them for who they are, and what is important to them.

Belonging and love needs (from Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs) are only met when we take the extra step as marketers to see and understand that all people just want to be seen and shown as equals — not as props or checkboxes.

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