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How Your Marketing Can Authentically Support the LGBTQIA+ Community During Pride Month

by | Jun 7, 2024 | Marketing

We’re unsure if you’ve noticed, but Pride Month is a very colorful time of year. That’s doubly true once you spot all the brands trying to capitalize on the marketing-friendly aesthetic that Pride Month brings. There’s Pride flags, Pride shoes, Pride shampoo, even a Pride sandwich (that we have to admit does look pretty delicious).

While we love how pretty it all looks, before you hop aboard the Pride branding train, there’s a very important term you should know: rainbow washing. Rainbow washing is when a brand appropriates Pride imagery for marketing purposes without actually supporting the LGBTQIA+ community.

Does that mean you should avoid rainbows and multicolored Instagram posts throughout June? Not at all! It just means there’s a right and wrong way to market your business during Pride Month. Allow us to offer some tips for how to use your marketing strategy to support LGBTQIA+ folks authentically.


Understanding Pride Month & Rainbow Washing

The best way to determine whether your marketing strategy is dabbling in rainbow washing or not is to think about who is at the center of your content. That doesn’t just mean what imagery is being used. If branding were all that mattered, then practically every company would become an ally overnight with just a quick rainbow logo rebrand (insert sarcastic tone here).

Marketing is all about increasing visibility and prompting customers to complete an action. When you ask, “Who is at the center of my content?” what you’re really asking is, “Who am I making more visible, and what action am I asking my customers to take?” If you plan to use Pride imagery in your marketing, the answers to those questions should be, “LGBTQIA+ folks,” and “I’m prompting my audience to tangibly support the LGBTQIA+ community.”

So, what does that look like in practice? Let’s explore some options


Showing Authentic Support Through Marketing during Pride Month

Support LGBTQIA+ Businesses and Artists

As a small business owner, you know what it’s like to do all the work backstage without getting much public recognition (who do they think got here to open the doors at 6:00 am??). Imagine, then, how it feels to LGBTQIA+ business owners to get overshadowed by other businesses using Pride branding to increase their own visibility. Use your platform during Pride Month to highlight, not hide, these businesses.

Commission Pride-themed branding from LGBTQIA+ artists: It’s a tough world out there for creative types trying to make a living through art, even more so for creatives from an underrepresented community. If you’re going to use Pride-themed designs, support an LGBTQIA+ artist by commissioning original work from them. Then (and this is suuuuuuuper important) give them shoutouts everywhere! This way, your Pride imagery financially benefits an LGBTQIA+ artist directly and gives them a platform to showcase more of their work

Collaborate with and highlight LGBTQIA+ businesses: Partner with local LGBTQIA+ businesses and highlight these collaborations in your marketing. Maybe it’s a cobranded product, a collaborative event, or even just a couple of local businesses showing each other some love (awww). In any case, give them the marketing spotlight and use your existing customer base to drive a bigger audience to these businesses.


Donate to LGBTQIA+ Organizations:

Money makes the world go ‘round. It’s also a tangible asset that can directly support the LGBTQIA+ community. So, if you’re in the business of making money, use your Pride Month marketing to send that money to the right places.

Participate in Pride fundraisers: Farmers markets are one of the best places to catch a small business owner in the wild. They’re also a great venue for supporting the local community. During Pride Month, consider partnering with a local market or community center to donate a portion of sales from participating vendors to LGBTQIA+-run organizations. This way, the action your branding provokes is one that directly supports the LGBTQIA+ community.

Partner with nonprofits: Don’t be afraid to ask for help! If you’re not part of the LGBTQIA+ community, you may not know the best avenue of financial support. That’s ok! Work with local LGBTQIA+ nonprofits to understand their needs and how your business can support them. Use your platform to raise awareness about their work and encourage your customers to get involved. The Human Rights Campaign is a great national LGBTQIA+ advocacy organization to support, and, for our Michigan folks, consider checking out Equality Michigan.


Beyond Pride Month: Year-Round Support

One of the main criticisms of rainbow washing is that the “support” it demonstrates is limited to June. Authentic allyship means integrating support for the LGBTQIA+ community into your business practices throughout the year. That’s the beautiful thing about the practices we’ve outlined: they’re timeless! LGBTQIA+ artists need to eat like the rest of us, so they’re looking for work every other month, too. Plus, did you know that nonprofits operate all year? *Gasp!*

If you treat LGBTQIA+ like a one-and-done event only during Pride Month, then it can come across as a marketing ploy. But, if you leverage Pride imagery to center your content on elevating LGBTQIA+ voices instead of elevating your business, you can use your online presence to do the work of allyship year-round.

So go ahead and fly that Pride flag in person and online! And from all of us here at GreenCup Digital, happy Pride!

About the Author

Will Libby

Will is a language nerd and storytelling enthusiast. He enjoys the challenge of tailoring his writing to suit a unique brand voice while also delivering informative, thought-provoking content.
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