Creative diversity: a case for inclusion and representation
A lack of diversity not only affects your bottom line but demonstrably hinders the quality of creative output and innovation
Creative diversity: a case for inclusion and representation
As a working professional, I’ve made a number of career changes - from community relations to academic research to creative communications - the most recent being the role of Creative Director of Wild Fruit Agency. Over the years, I’ve addressed audiences in a number of different contexts— to share clinical research findings, amuse readers with tales of dating misadventures, or convince electoral constituents to take civic action. But the common thread throughout my work has been focused on engaging the individual.
It is well understood that communication is a means to inform, entertain or persuade, but most importantly, to deliver a message that resonates with the audience. However, my aim, rather than being a painful attempt to appeal to the masses, is to tell a singular story that truly reflects the individual. It is the individual we want to win over and, as a content creator, I strive to always present my audience with an authentic and inclusive story.
With that said, I implore creative teams and communications departments to consider the place of authentic storytelling within the context of diversity and inclusion. In 2016, Forbes magazine published an article that discussed the influence of diversity on a company’s ability to innovate, and how that impacts the bottom line. The article makes a fairly strong case for creative diversity: ‘In a fast-changing world, where the ability to innovate is now recognised as the main competitive edge, companies must seek to create more diverse teams.’ In fact, ‘taking an anti-diversity posture may actually hurt their long-term profitability.’ For companies (and their stakeholders) with creative teams that don’t heed the call for active inclusion, the consequences could be more damaging than they think.
In a fast-changing world, where the ability to innovate is now recognised as the main competitive edge, companies must seek to create more diverse teams.Forbes
Most international brands are tasked with catering to a wide and varying consumer base. Their audiences come from different walks of life and each person represents a background that may be completely different from the individuals who make up the brand’s marketing team. For example, if the advertising campaign for a mass-market haircare brand is developed by a creative team consisting solely of twenty-something-year-old white men, the company will likely struggle to create a message that genuinely connects with their intended audience.
There are two reasons this would happen: 1) Homogeneity impedes creativity. 2) Winning a share of a market is a democratic process, and consumers demand representation.
Scientific American published an article revealing the different ways in which cohorts of people come together to find dynamic solutions for many common problems. The article was based on decades of research conducted by organizational scientists who investigated the impact of diversity on creativity and innovation. According to the article, diverse groups tend to be more innovative than homogeneous ones.
Not only is diversity valuable for the sake of fostering creativity, it also increases the likelihood that a brand will more accurately reflect the experiences of its consumers. A disparity in creative representation is one that should be taken seriously, as even underrepresented consumer segments have power - whether a brand chooses to acknowledge it or not. Categorically speaking, they have the power to access information, to choose one brand over another, and to influence other consumers to convert. The acceleration of technology in the age of the internet has lead to consumer expectation that a brand can and should connect with them on a deeply personal level. But if that consumer is not adequately represented in said brand’s creative team, chances are the message won’t stick.
Not only is diversity valuable for the sake of fostering creativity, it also increases the likelihood that a brand will more accurately reflect the experiences of its consumers.
The value of creative diversity is immense.
The myriad of experiences and perspectives within a team are an incredible resource that drives vision and allows a more unique approach to storytelling. The advantages of working with designers, developers, marketeers and copywriters from multiple backgrounds are evident in a team’s ability to produce more compelling and nuanced content, and that makes a strong case for creative diversity.
Most importantly, diversity humanises an organisation. A concerted effort to champion inclusion and bring more people to the leadership table is a demonstration of a company’s values - its mission and priorities. It shows the consumer that a company not only welcomes the prospect of push back on the status quo, but proactively works to listen to the diverse voices of its people, both internally and externally.
Consumers will always gravitate towards a brand that makes them feel heard.
Successful companies can establish rapport simply by paying attention and responding to what really matters to their audience on a fundamental level. And isn’t that the goal of marketing anyway? To figure out what captivates us, what motivates us, what keeps us up at night. To understand the complex layers of humanity and then tell a great story about it.
Explore the themes we write about
Looking at approaches to building a powerful brand identity, from brand journalism to purpose-focused strategy.
Technology and globalisation have triggered the fastest period of change in history. How to adapt and stay future proof.
Effective communication and relationship building are integral to brand success. How to nail it every time.