Pride Month is a time when the LGBTQIA+ community (including allies) come together to celebrate their orientation, promote freedom, and have the chance to be loud and proud about their identities after years of discrimination, prejudice, and hate.
During Pride Month, companies often promote their business, brand, or organization’s support for the LGBTQIA+ community with social media campaigns. Brand participation is essential to all Pride events, but marketing can often miss the mark — it is more than a simple rainbow logo change.
So, how can brands strike a balance between showing up authentically to show the community their support and avoiding looking like they’re superficially capitalizing on a movement built on freedom? Read on to discover examples of how brands show up for Pride and the LGBTQIA+ community meaningfully, what to avoid in Pride Month marketing, and frequently asked questions.
Pride originated in June 1969 after the Stonewall Riots. It's important to note that this was not the first riot in response to raids on LGBTQIA+ bars, but it was the most prominent. The riots happened when the community grew tired of continued raids on their local bar, Stonewall, and when an attack became violent, the community fought back. From there, various events followed, like the 1993 march in Washington for Lesbian, Gay, and Bi-equal rights and liberation, the Stonewall 25 march in 1994, and the Millennium march in Washington, to name a few.
The purpose of Pride has evolved into a celebration of progress in a community that has been hindered by others while also drawing attention to the injustices the community has faced for decades. Almost every city in the United States has events in June; even if you're a global brand, you may want to consider events like World Pride to show up on a bigger stage. During June, we are meant to shine a light on a community working towards equality for all, not just a few.
Pride has been growing year over year, from events in major cities to smaller towns. With this growth, there is an increasing need to showcase corporate Pride to communicate solidarity and support for this community.
Being a part of this month shows value alignment with a sector of our population that is often conscious of how they spend their money to ensure consistency with their core beliefs in equality. Companies during Pride Month should be thoughtful, intentional and purposeful in their marketing campaigns. This community holds a purchasing power of over 1 trillion. Often, continued support from companies when Pride Month ends experience growth in spending.
While sponsoring Pride events or posting a rainbow is nice, consumers from the LGBTQIA+ are looking for tangible and meaningful participation that goes beyond 30 days in June. One of the biggest criticisms of companies during Pride Month is when brands change their logo to a rainbow and immediately change it back on July 1st.
A brand’s Pride Month marketing campaign should include why and how they support this community. The following are a few social media post considerations that brands should keep in mind.
There is no need to reinvent the wheel; the most significant requirement is to show up for 12 months for a community that will support you throughout the year.
A common pitfall brands make is focusing on marketing to the LGBTQIA+ community only during Pride Month — although some brands’ marketing attempts during this time might be genuine, it can come across as disingenuous when attempts at marketing, promotions, or outreach happen once a year and aren’t reflected in your brand’s overall identity.
So, what should brands do to avoid their marketing efforts looking flimsy, transparent and out-of-touch? Here are five things marketers should avoid in their Pride Month marketing:
Some brands will add the Pride flag to their social profile photos or brand logo to show their support and respect — but the support shouldn’t start or end there. Brands must consider everything they do to celebrate Pride when deciding to alter their logo or profile picture.
Yes, Pride Month presents promotion opportunities, but your focus should be on the community, not your brand. Considerate brands should ask themselves, “What can we do to elevate LGBTQIA+ creators and brands within our community or industry?” rather than “How can we use this month to increase profits?” and consider the optics of all their efforts.
One of the most common mistakes brands make is only showing support for the Queer community during Pride Month. If Pride Month is a focus, you should spread your tactics and efforts throughout the year when planning your marketing strategy. Some examples of this could be donating to LGBTQIA+ youth organizations, arranging a day for employees to volunteer at local LGBTQIA+ nonprofits, spotlighting important LGBTQIA+ figures in your business, and incorporating LBQTIA+ individuals and families in your visual and written content.
As mentioned before, one of the more common Pride Month marketing mistakes a brand can make is promoting itself rather than elevating and highlighting the LGBTQIA+ community. However, many brands have shown up during Pride Month with success, and have highlighted this throughout the year:
In a Pride Month social media campaign, TD Bank highlighted how it partners with over 150 LGBTQIA+ initiatives to promote and support this community all year-round.
Virgin Atlantic promoted its move to gender non-conforming uniforms for its workforce, noting how it strides for inclusivity as an employer. In this launch (which occurred outside of Pride Month) it also included Michelle Visage, a well-known ally of the LGBTQIA+ community and judge on RuPaul’s Drag Race.
Abercrombie’s Pride Month social media campaign highlighted its long-term partnership with The Trevor Project, which offers suicide prevention and 24-hour councelling for LGBTQIA+ youth who need support or are in crisis.
We explored what brands shouldn’t do in their marketing efforts for Pride Month — so what should savvy brands do to show up authentically for the Queer community? Here are some tips to incorporate into your overall marketing and content strategy to meaningfully show your support during Pride Month.
The first and most crucial step of Pride Month is education — how can your brand be a leader in the LGBTQIA+ space if they’re unaware of the significance of Pride Month? Involve your company’s leadership, DEI committee, and other relevant stakeholders to make Pride as much of an internal activity as it is an external one.
Participate in online Pride Month activities and initiatives in your local community. Brands should find opportunities to support (not market) during local Pride parades, primarily local markets, attend local art shows and presentations, or volunteer — this can be by donating monetarily or donating your employee’s time.
What better way to leverage LGBTQIA+ voices that benefit from your account’s reach than an account takeover? Partner with an activist or member of the LGBTQIA+ to highlight their voice, educate your audience, and strongly demonstrate your brand’s values.
Donating money is a great way for brands to show their support to local and global causes. While Pride Month donations are important, consider donating during the rest of the year when donations might not be top of mind for other brands.
Yes, Pride Month is important, but there are 11 other months your brand can volunteer, incorporate inclusive language and imagery in your marketing, and more. In addition, many days throughout the year focus on the LGBTQIA+ community and causes that your brand can focus on and incorporate into your marketing and CSR strategies. Some of these include:
We covered some important days throughout the year that brands can show up for — but how else can brands offer their support for the LGBTQIA+ community on a year-round basis?
An easy place for brands to show up authentically is to incorporate inclusive language into the content. This means using preferred pronouns and language that aims to respect everyone and their differences.
If you show up during Pride Month with seemingly random or ultra-targeted LGBTQIA+ influencers, you risk looking inauthentic to your audience. Follow important creators in your niche and beyond to make them feel like part of your community.
From incorporating pronouns in your Slack, LinkedIn, and Zoom profiles to buying from Queer-owned businesses, there are many ways individuals and brands can be great allies all year. Listen to LGBTQIA+ voices in your company and beyond, host events, like lunch and learns, for employees to learn more about historically significant days throughout the year, and more.
At Dash Hudson, we participate in Pride Month not only on a large scale but also within our hometown of Halifax, NS. While our local Pride events are outside of June, our team participates and elevates our LGBTQ2IAS+ voices all year round!
June is Pride Month because of the anniversary of the Stonewall Riots on June 28, 1969. On June 11, 1999, then-President Bill Clinton declared it “Gay & Lesbian Pride Month.”
During Pride Month, companies should refrain from engaging in ‘rainbow capitalism,’ which is when brands try to sell a product or release a promotion for Pride Month but don’t show their support throughout the year in meaningful ways. During Pride Month, companies can:
Brands can celebrate Pride Month on social media by centering their social accounts on Queer voices. Users want to see that you support the LGBTQIA+ community and how you support them — this means adding more than just a Pride flag to your bio and using your account to amplify their voices and causes.