What Makes a Meaningful Brand: Representing Diversity

June 27, 2017 Matt Linehan

As an agency committed to making meaningful connections between a brand and their consumers, we got to talking lately, wondering what makes a brand meaningful to consumers. In this series of three posts, we explore differing perspectives from within our agency on what gives a brand meaning. And you can check out the first post here.

Growing up I remember being inundated with brand advertising. Ads were everywhere; commercials on the shows I watched, on the websites I frequented, etc., but I always felt there was a disconnect. In my mind, the ads I was seeing from the brands I recognized weren’t for me. The images and themes didn’t resonate with my life experience. That all changed during the 2014 Super Bowl. I can’t tell you much about the game, or even remember who won, but I do remember the ad. Coca-Cola ran an ad that represented me and my community by including an LGBTQ family in their commercial. Seeing a brand I recognize, recognize me was something I’d never seen before – in that moment Coca-Cola made a meaningful connection with me.

Click here to view the ad that resonated with me so well.

Since then, I’m happy to say that I could go on and on with examples of brands that have made a meaningful connection with me by representing the LGBTQ community. One example happened very recently on my way home from work. I was riding the subway, or the T as we say in Boston, and there was an advertisement for the Tourism Board of St. Petersburg Clearwater, FL. The ad was of two men laughing at a bar with some copy at the bottom, and a call to action to visit a link that said “To learn more visit www.visitstpeteclearwater.com/LGBT”. I instantly looked it up. The website was awesome, and everything I want from a brand in order to continue that meaningful connection. So much so, that weekend when I was with my friends we started talking about it and we all went to the website together. Twenty minutes later we were all having a glass of wine and talking about a trip to St. Petersburg Clearwater. We all felt that connection because they were making us and our community a part of their brand and their message.

Being gay is not the only thing that defines me, nor is it the only way to represent me in advertising, and of course there are other ways a brand can create a connection with me. Using LGBTQ causes and story lines in a brand’s advertising and marketing comes with a risk, albeit less of a risk than in years past, that it will upset the other customers who don’t agree. That risk is a main reason why doing so helps solidify such a meaningful connection with me. I’m very aware of brands that represent and support my community, and in turn I support their brand and start to build a truly meaningful connection with them.

Diversity is important. The world isn’t only made up of Caucasian, heterosexual families/individuals, smiling behind a white picket fence. Brands that not only understand this but incorporate the scenarios and experiences of our diverse country (and global society) into their advertising will likely create more meaningful, lasting connections with consumers.


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