As a member of the LGBTQ+ community, Pride isn’t just a month-long celebration – it’s life. Pride means more than the parades happening throughout June, and it certainly means more than seeing brands incorporating the rainbow in their logos.
That expression of LGBTQ+ support is a welcome change from just a couple decades ago. But how much of it is just expression? How much is rainbow-washing? As marketers, we need to know.
Let’s take a step back. What do we mean when we say “rainbow-washing”? Are we talking about brands who use a show of support, or Pride branding to cover for other activities that are actively hostile to the LGBTQ+ community? Or do we simply mean support that’s more performative than we’d prefer?
It’s an important question to ask. Why? Because it matters – not only because it’s good to do the right thing, but because as a brand manager you need to remember your customers aren’t fools.
No, they don’t all have the time to research every political activity and contribution made by every brand in their lives. But all it takes is something to put you on their radar. Just look at Bud Light. The brand’s cowardice over the Dylan Mulvaney backlash – sales plummeted after the trans influencer’s face was put on a can – put it in the worst possible spot as it managed to wrong-foot itself with both sides of a highly polarized society.
Contrast this with Disney. No, the House of Mouse isn’t the most progressive company in the world. But they spoke out against the “Don’t Say Gay” bill in Florida…and have cheerfully (gleefully even, in the case of their lawyers) gone toe-to-toe against Ron DeSantis in the months since.
Standing your ground matters because it’s a good indicator of sincerity. And sincerity is one of the two best ways to prove your Pride logo isn’t rainbow-washing. The other? Transparency. You may not be perfect. But the more transparent and sincere you are, the more willing your customers will be to give you the benefit of the doubt. You’ll have the credibility to demonstrate your support isn’t just performative. And you’ll have the brand loyalty that comes from it.
So, if you’re in the well-intentioned-but-maybe-too-performative category, and you’re willing to be sincere and transparent, work with us! You’re already making some effort, and it’s absolutely worth it to step up your game. Not just because it’s the right thing to do (which it is) but because it makes sense from a business standpoint as well.