10 Tactics to Authentically Launch Your Brand’s LGBTQ+ Marketing

By Greg Wright

Earlier this week, the ANA released the results from the first LGBTQ+ Marketing Inclusion survey as part of a report on LGBTQ+ Marketing Inclusion, including best practices. The survey results are overall positive with half of respondents stating that had at least one ad that featured an identifiable LGBTQ+ community member in the past year. However, the survey results showed that there is still hesitation from brands to embrace inclusive marketing. Moreover, that hesitation could be hindering brand growth.

According to the survey results, the perception of a brand being inclusive is the key benefit of LGBTQ+ marketing inclusion. Moreover, 75 percent of respondents think more positively about companies that sponsor LGBTQ+ nonprofits and 66 percent think more positively about companies that actively market to the LGBTQ+ community via LGBTQ+-targeted media.

Brands may be inadvertently excluding potential customers without inclusive marketing. That said, it is also important for brands to be authentic and purposeful. In fact, 44 percent of respondents cited "a concern we'll get it wrong" when asked about the biggest challenge to LGBTQ+ marketing inclusion.

So how can brands "get it right"? Here are 10 ways to get started.

Cast LGBTQ+ People


It is important for the LGBTQ+ community to identify with and see themselves in your brand and your brand's marketing. Casting identifiable LGBTQ+ community members (e.g., same sex couples, out celebrities, LGBTQ+ social settings) fosters positive brand perception about inclusivity. Additionally, casting LGBTQ+ people is important for further growth and acceptance of the community, as consumers who are exposed to LGBTQ+ people in the media are more likely to be accepting and supportive of their issues.

Utilize LGBTQ+ Media


A majority of LGBTQ+ media outlets were created out of necessity and activism, and remain an integral part of their local communities today. Advertising in, and thereby supporting, LGBTQ+ media is a clear way to further enhance brand perception. LGBTQ+ people are more likely to purchase from brands that advertise in and support LGBTQ+ media. The ANA/AIMM list of Certified Diverse Suppliers includes a number of LGBTQ+ media entities as well as various marketing solution providers (e.g., agencies).

Partner with LGBTQ+ Nonprofits


One of the most beneficial ways your brand can make a significant impact in the community is by donating to LGBTQ+-established nonprofits. This could be as simple as giving a portion of the profits that come from Pride-themed products to nonprofits. Collaborating with an LGBTQ+ nonprofit is a great way to authentically improve your brand perception. A shortlist of LGBTQ+ nonprofits is available under the resources section.

Advertise 365


Embrace the LGBTQ+ community 365 days a year in marketing and advertising campaigns. While a majority of Pride events happen in June, not every city or community celebrates then. There are many other dates and events of importance to the LGBTQ+ community to provide support year-round. It is great to see brands change their logos and release rainbow-themed products during June, but support should go beyond Pride Month.

Embrace Diverse Perspectives


Having a marketing team of diverse perspectives and backgrounds, including ethnic and sexual orientation diversity, is a great way to ensure your brand is speaking authentically. Incorporating diverse perspectives into your marketing can help you get the messaging correct, avoid backlash, and show authentic support for the LGBTQ+ community. Look to Employee Resource Groups or other parts of your company if you do not have enough diversity on your team yet. Alternatively, your brand may want to look to an LGBTQ+-owned agency, which can bring additional diverse perspectives and ensure your LGBTQ+ marketing does not miss the mark.

Avoid Rainbow-Washing


"Rainbow-washing" is when a brand purports to support the LGBTQ+ community and puts rainbow colors and/or LGBTQ+ imagery in advertising and products in hopes of increasing LGBTQ+ sales, but without a tangible effort to support the community. Rainbow-washing is damaging to the community and to a brand's perception, because it misleads consumers into thinking they are supporting the LGBTQ+ community. Brands can avoid rainbow-washing by collaborating with an LGBTQ+ nonprofit, increasing diversity and acceptance within the company, working with an LGBTQ+ specialized agency, and lifting up the LGBTQ+ community. The key factor in avoiding rainbow-washing is authentic support for the LGBTQ+ community through action.

Create and Leverage Employee Resource Groups


Employee resource groups can be a great way to foster a diverse and inclusive workplace. ERGs are voluntary, employee-led groups who share a characteristic, such as gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and so forth. The groups exist to provide support and help in personal or career development and to create a safe space where employees can bring their whole selves to the table. They are often open to allies as well. ERGs can also serve as an internal resource to reduce the risk of improper messaging.

Build Inclusivity with Pronouns


It is important never to assume a person's pronouns. By assuming a person's pronouns, it is possible to send an unintended message that people must look a certain way to be able to use their pronouns. Using the wrong pronouns can be offensive or even harmful. By using a person's pronouns correctly, people can reduce the adverse effects of social oppression. When you use a person's pronouns correctly, you are showing respect and forming an inclusive environment. Encouraging the inclusion of pronouns in email signatures fosters a safe and inclusive workplace.

Identify Brand-Safe Environments


Ensuring your messaging appears in a brand-safe environment is a challenge, for all digital marketers, but also uniquely so for LGBTQ+ marketing inclusion. One approach is to work with your media agency and identify sites where you do not want messaging to appear. You may also want to limit your media buy to premium inventory, employ contextual targeting, or otherwise optimize your media buying to ensure the messaging appears in a brand-safe environment.

Access LGBTQ+ Purchasing Power


According to recent reports, the LGBTQ+ community has more than $3.6 trillion in purchasing power globally and more than $1.0 trillion in the U.S. alone. Additionally, one of the key benefits of LGBTQ+ marketing inclusion identified in this survey is accessing the purchasing power of the community. Although a brand's budget may be limited, reducing risk and taking strategic advantage of targeted marketing that includes the LGBTQ+ community can be key factors in capturing LGBTQ+ purchasing power.

Download the ANA LGBTQ+ Marketing Inclusion Report and survey results for more information. In addition, attend the LGBTQ+ Marketing Inclusion event on January 26 to hear from brands that are getting it right!


Greg Wright is the VP of content marketing at ANA. In his role at the ANA, Greg Wright manages the marketing organization area, which includes in-house agency, marketing procurement, and agency relationship management. Prior to joining the ANA, Greg managed executive and member communications and marketing in-house for the AICPA. Greg has an MBA in Marketing and a BA in Political Science and Geography. In his free time, Greg serves as alumni advisor for Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity at UCLA. He also a member of the North Hollywood West Neighborhood Council and was recently elected its president.