Black History Month is an annual celebration of the Black community's history, achievements, and influence. In February, brands and agencies nationwide launch marketing campaigns to recognize and include their diverse audiences. For a good reason: Black History Month allows brands to participate in meaningful cultural moments through thoughtful campaigns.
However, championing the Black community is more than just a to-do list item that should be checked off once a year; it is an orientation that should be integrated into a brand's identity all year.
Consider making Black History Month a catalyst for creating authentic campaigns that reach Black consumers during the month and weaving cultural diversity and appreciation into the fabric of your brand for the rest of the year.
As multicultural marketing industry leaders for over three decades, we're here to provide success guidelines and a few Black History Month marketing ideas to make your target Black consumers feel seen, understood and supported.
President Gerald Ford declared Black History Month in 1976, saying it was time to "seize the opportunity to honour the too-often overlooked accomplishments of Black Americans in every field of endeavour throughout our history."
The goal of Black History Month is to share, celebrate, and comprehend the significance of black culture, history, accomplishments, and heritage. It allows people to learn more about Black people's stories, experiences, work, impact, and cultural contributions.
This year, here are our top tips for creating Black History Month social media posts and integrated campaigns:
Make the audience the hero of the story.
Since the 2020 resurgence in anti-racism activism and conversations, many brands have chosen to evaluate their role in these conversations and actions and make significant changes. Your brand's Black History Month campaigns can potentially extend the work you've done to promote diversity and build genuine connections with your audience.
Making African American consumers the heroes of a Black History Month campaign that genuinely celebrates Black history, culture, and communities is the first step. If you can naturally incorporate your brand or product into your campaign, as Target did, that's even better. However, your primary goal should not be to promote your brand or product. Begin with your target audience — celebrating Black history — and build your campaign from there.
"Finding ways to correlate history from a past to present perspective can lend to positive feedback," says Michelle Ngome, President of the African American Marketing Association and Line 25 Consulting. Nike's ad campaigns do an excellent job of tying in past, present, or athletes from all backgrounds."
Bring in a diverse team to help shape campaigns.
Cultural intelligence should be a priority when developing your campaign to avoid sending tone-deaf messages that will inevitably fall flat. Include your diverse team members in creating your campaigns, or hire third-party counsel from agencies or consultants to ensure your movement is authentic and intelligent.
Target worked with their African American Business Council (an employee resource group of over 1,000 team members) to help create their messaging and choose which products to feature for their Black History Month campaign.
"If a company is truly diverse and inclusive, find creative ways to recognize Black employees who have made an impact in the company or community in the last year," Ngome advises.
Adobe was also an excellent example of a brand leveraging Black leadership; they used their own Black Employee Network to create a multifaceted campaign, selecting influencers who resonated with the Black community.
Pass the microphone.
The best way to truly commemorate Black History Month is to "pass the mic" or use your platform to amplify and elevate Black stories in their own words.
This is an effective way to assist Black communities, creators, authors, activists, and entrepreneurs in telling their stories to your audience.
Instagram takeovers, in which Black creators take over your platform to spread their message to your followers, are one way to accomplish this. This principle also applies to other marketing channels, such as your email, blog, or website.
Selena Gomez, for example, let various activists and thought leaders take over her account, giving them access to her millions of followers.
All year long, celebrate diversity and inclusion.
When attempting to reach communities of colour authentically, year-round representation is critical. According to a 2019 Adobe survey, 34% of U.S. consumers abandoned a brand because it failed to represent their identity (race, religion, sexual orientation, etc.) in its advertising. Consumers want to see that you care about who they are and that your product is for them to trust and relate to your brand. Build relationships rather than just selling products.
Inclusive marketing is the best thing you can do for your company. And there is no substitute for getting to know your customers — their dreams, desires, fears, and frustrations — on a deep level when crafting authentic campaigns that achieve your goals. Any group you've identified as a valuable customer for your brand should know that you're rooting for them and helping them achieve success, whatever that means to them.
“My humanity is bound up in yours, for we can only be human together.” Make A Diffrence!
Social Media Specialist