3 Actionable Ways to Make Your Creative More Diverse

February 24th, 2021 by Kayla Goforth

Example of diverse photo assets for ad campaigns

Key Insights

  • Diverse creative does not stop at just photography—companies should diversify their videos, illustrations, and voiceovers.
  • Companies who do not have the resources to create their own assets can purchase existing diverse photos and videos and edit existing illustrations to be more representative of diverse audiences.
  • The presence of POC in creative is not enough; designers and marketers must be thoughtful of how minorities and POC are portrayed across all mediums.

In a perfect world with a bottomless budget and endless hours, companies would always be able to hire skilled photographers, illustrators, videographers, and actors to acquire custom creative assets that represent the company and their target and aspirational demographics for every marketing campaign. A lot of companies, however, must rely on existing stock assets due to varying limitations. The problem with stock photography, illustrations, videos, and audio, however, is that most of what is available depicts white men and women. Does this even matter? Maybe not as much to people who look like the subjects of these photos.

By excluding people of different races, genders, body types, ages, and abilities, marketers are ignoring and erasing members of these communities. If that isn’t reason enough to prioritize the inclusion of diverse assets in marketing campaigns, Google and The Female Quotient conducted a survey in 2019 concluding “that people are more likely to consider, or even purchase, a product after seeing an ad they think is diverse or inclusive.” Specifically, “64% of those surveyed said they took some sort of action after seeing an ad that they consider to be diverse or inclusive. 69% of black consumers say they are more likely to purchase from a brand whose advertising positively reflects their race/ethnicity.”

The study also states that “71% of LGBTQ consumers said they are more likely to interact with an online ad that authentically represents their sexual orientation,” and data shows that LGBTQ households spend 35% more on online purchases each year than non-LGBTQ households.

#1 Use Diverse Stock Photography and Video Resources

As marketers, we should strive to not only include minority groups and POC in our creative, but we should also be thoughtful about how these communities are portrayed in photos and videos. Who is leading the meeting? Who is teaching the class? Who is in handcuffs? If the answer to these questions could perpetuate any stereotypes—no matter how subtle—consider skipping those assets and continuing your search.

The mere presence of underrepresented communities is not enough; we must make sure they are represented positively and in a way that would make members of said communities proud. Nappy.co is an excellent free resource for photos of Black and Brown people and a great jumping off point for diversifying your photo library.

Example of diverse vector art for a marketing campaign

#2 Adapt Vector Art

Illustrations may seem more straightforward, but will actually require the designer to be just as, if not more, thoughtful as when selecting stock photos. Whether starting from scratch with an illustration or purchasing stock vector art, the considerations are the same. Just as with stock photography, we want to:

  • Avoid perpetuating any stereotypes, not only in subject matter, but also in more subtle ways.
  • Pay extra attention to how facial features, hair, or skin tones are depicted.

Even in anthropomorphized objects, these considerations need to be prioritized. A design choice may be unintentional or innocuous, but they can have serious implications and reveal damaging subconscious biases. In 2017, a Kellogg’s Corn Pops box depicted a community of corn pops, and the one brown corn pop in the entire group was depicted as a janitor. Kellogg’s understandably faced serious backlash for the illustration and quickly corrected and reprinted the box.

Luckily, illustrations (unlike photography) are adaptable. Obviously creating vector illustrations from scratch allows the designer to create any scene they want, but stock vectors are also fully customizable, too.

  • These file types usually include .ai, .eps, or .svg files that can be edited in graphics editing software like Adobe Illustrator.
  • Body types, skin tones, facial features, clothing, positioning, and so much more can be edited to represent people of all races, genders, body types, ages, and abilities in various settings.

#3 Expand Audio Talent Search

Marketers can’t deny the prevalence and effectiveness of video in marketing and advertising, so a company’s journey to diversifying their creative should not stop at visual assets. In recent years, there has been a push in Hollywood to cast POC voice actors to play non-white characters. While this is a move in the right direction, diversity in voice acting for marketing can be taken a step further.

Traditionally, women were hired for voice-overs about fashion and beauty, and men were hired for voice-overs about beer and cheeseburgers. We are seeing a cultural shift in household dynamics, where men and women are making important decisions together.

Adweek estimates that today, 85-90% of voice-overs are done by women across categories, reinforcing that women have more power over the wallet and decision making than originally thought. No matter the industry, marketers should seek out POC voice actors if their videos contain POC characters, and should keep in mind that actors of any gender can be persuasive and appropriate for their videos.

Purchasing existing diverse creative assets can seem like a daunting task for companies on a budget, but becoming aware of what resources are out there and leveraging additional options for inclusivity is key.

Stock assets are often thought of as cheesy, unnatural, and overwhelmingly white, but this is not always the case! Marketers must explore diverse stock photo and video options, edit purchased or custom illustrations to be more diverse, and hire diverse voice actors if they want their campaigns to be more effective and reach a wider audience.

Every organization is different, and not everyone has a dedicated marketing team with the expertise needed to source or create diverse assets. When you work with Search Influence, you’ll leverage our team’s expertise to create diverse and inclusive content for your marketing campaign. Connect with our experts today to discuss your digital marketing goals.