Four Tips from iStock to Help Marketers and SMBs Authentically Represent the LGBTQ+ Community During Pride Month and Year-Round

As marketers, communicators and small businesses engage customers during Pride Month, iStock has today unveiled four tips to help businesses more authentically depict the LGBTQ+ community all year round and to challenge harmful, cliched stereotypes that have persisted for decades.

“The familiar visual clichés typically used to engage people during Pride Month– rainbow flags and white middle-aged couples holding hand – are played out and don’t break through in today’s crowded visual landscape. Authentic, inclusive representation is a 24/7/365 kind of goal—anything short of that leaves room for improvement.”

According to Visual GPS, an iStock research initiative, 65% of all UK respondents say it’s important to them that the companies they buy from celebrate diversity of all kinds and 77% of GenZ and Millennials agree with this statement.

“Our research clearly shows that people want to see diversity and inclusion in the visuals and brand communications that surround them,” said Claudia Marks, Senior Art Director, iStock. “It also shows that they respond positively and in-kind, supporting brands that emphasize diversity and inclusion via their spending power.”

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“The familiar visual clichés typically used to engage people during Pride Month– rainbow flags and white middle-aged couples holding hand – are played out and don’t break through in today’s crowded visual landscape. Authentic, inclusive representation is a 24/7/365 kind of goal—anything short of that leaves room for improvement.”

For SMBs seeking to build confidence with their audience(s), Marks outlined four tips they should keep in mind when selecting visual content during Pride Month and beyond:

1. Intersectional storytelling in LGBTQ+ communities
The dominant depiction of LGBTQ+ people in advertising and media is still a young, white and affluent male. LGBTQ+ identities overlap or intersect with every other possible group in an infinite number of ways. To feature LGBTQ+ people authentically, remember to select visual content that shows the diversity of the community across all ages, ethnicities and body types.

2. Repicture LGBTQ+ families
For too long, LGBTQ+ families in have been depicted as white, upper middle‑class, traditionally good‑looking, cis‑gendered men with a baby. For SMBs, it time to move beyond that depiction– portrayals must include a more rounded picture of LGBTQ+ family life that include single parents, transracial families, blended families, co‑parenting, as well as parents of different ages and socio‑economic backgrounds.

3. More Than Love: Move Beyond Romance for LGBTQ+
Often the media shows the LGBTQ+ community depicted as romantic lovers and nothing more. The truth is like all humans they live incredibly full, rich complicated lives both within and outside of their romantic and/or sexual interests just like everyone else – something to point out they are part of their communities – as friends, as colleagues, as teammates or as neighbors.

4. Include the LGBTQ+ community in business visuals year-round.
Financial services brands are vocal participants in Pride Month, and some companies have even launched initiatives aimed at including the transgender population. However, the iStock Creative Insights team found that when it comes to the visuals that financial services customers used throughout 2020, the LGBTQ+ community is included in less than 1% of all visuals—and, when they are included, they are most frequently shown in romantic visual stories. While this is a step forward, it doesn’t capture the full and multi‑faceted lives that this community leads. In the interest of being consistently committed to inclusion, be sure to include the LGBTQ+ community in visuals beyond Pride Month.

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