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Can Design Make Your Marketing More Inclusive?

October 7, 2021

Judy Chu

Judy is a Designer Manager at Hotwire North America passionate about transforming complex ideas into digestible content that enables brands to better connect with their audiences.

The short answer is yes, but this is not to be confused with the systematic problem of diversity, equity and inclusion, which is a much larger topic. It can, however, be an avenue to showcase your brand’s purpose, values, and be a powerful tool to ensure that what you’re putting out in the world is relatable and accessible to all.  

Here are a few design considerations to help your marketing communications be more inclusive: 

1. Audience insights 

Always begin by asking yourself: who is your content intended for? Is it targeted towards a specific demographic and will it resonate? Have you sought feedback from outside your team or industry? Running your content by a focus group comprised of a variety of backgrounds (personal and professional) can offer unique perspectives to help refine your content and ensure that it’ll be representative of their experiences and thus, resonate. Developing personas can also help guide your process, keeping your audience central to what you’re designing, so you’re not just creating content for your audience, but with them instead. Google’s All-in Inclusive Marketing Toolkit, which shares insights and resources for creating more inclusive content, can be handy to reference when thinking about who you’re creating content for. It covers a variety of topics from age, ethnicity, socioeconomic statuses, gender, people with disabilities, what to avoid, and how to communicate with these specific audiences. 

2. Image and artwork selection 

There are a few things to keep in mind when selecting the appropriate assets for your content. Are the photos, illustrations and artwork being used representative and inclusive of your intended audience? Can they envision themselves in the scenarios depicted and feel empowered? Better yet, is the photographer or creator behind the assets part of this community and are these communities portrayed in their best light? Researching the origin of assets can help add more intention and purpose to your content, painting a more thoughtful story. Are there opportunities for you to support and advocate for these artists and have them commissioned for future projects? For instance, if your brand is developing content for certain heritage or history celebrations (such as Black History Month, National Women’s History, APA Heritage Month, Pride, Hispanic-Latino Heritage Month, Disability Awareness, to name a few), having a designer or artist who shares a similar background can help your content be more authentic while supporting these communities. 

3. Accessibility considerations 

Did you know that 1.3B people worldwide have an impairment that affects their ability to experience digital content? These impairments go far and wide – ranging from temporary, developed from health conditions or injuries, to birth impairments and even age-related. With that in mind, consider these questions before designing: do we know who is accessing our content? Could a percentage of visitors need assistance with navigation? What can we do to make the experience easier and empower all visitors to access what they need on their own? Are we able to make tweaks to the user experience or optimize the content such that additional accessibility features can easily be added in the near-future? A safe bet is to assume future visitors will require accessibility features, so be prepared to accommodate ahead of time. There are guidelinesorganizations and numerous resources available to test if your content is accessible to get you started. 

Design is a tool that can help make your content more inclusive and accessible for all. It can create a space that encourages different people to understand one another, develop more empathy, and ultimately contribute to a greater experience. Always ask who your content is for, what they care about and how you can create a more inclusive environment to build loyalty and turn them into advocates to help keep your brand sticky. 

Want to chat more about inclusive design and content? Get in touch!