4 Things Brands Should Avoid When Honoring Juneteenth

Celebrating Juneteenth has become a key practice for brands that value inclusive marketing and engaging with multicultural audiences. While it’s great to see more companies recognizing this important day, it’s crucial to approach it thoughtfully. Here are four things brands should steer clear of when honoring Juneteenth to ensure genuine connections with Black audiences.

 

First, avoid simply going through the motions. It’s easy to post a message on social media or change your logo to Juneteenth colors, but these acts can come off as shallow if they aren’t backed by real action.

What to Do Instead:

  • Show Commitment: Make it clear that your support isn’t just for show. This could mean ongoing partnerships with Black-owned businesses or continuous support for social justice initiatives. Take a note from Target, who launched a $25 million Roundel Media Fund to support BIPOC brands with marketing costs, and pledged $100 million through 2025 to fuel economic prosperity in Black communities.
  • Be Sincere: Your messaging should reflect a true understanding of what Juneteenth represents. Avoid turning it into a marketing ploy and focus on meaningful engagement.

 

Steer clear of using stereotypes or appropriating cultural symbols in your marketing. Misusing cultural elements can do more harm than good.

What to Do Instead:

  • Get Expert Advice: Collaborate with a marketing agency that specializes in multicultural marketing. They can help ensure your campaigns are respectful and accurate.
  • Educate Your Audience: Use your platform to inform your audience about Juneteenth’s history and cultural significance. Share creative stories and messages. For example, Zales and Kay Jewelers intentionally worked with Black employees to design a special edition pendant to honor Dr. Opal Lee, known as the “Grandmother of Juneteenth”, and her efforts to make Juneteenth a federal holiday.

 

 

Juneteenth isn’t just a celebration; it marks the end of chattel slavery for Black Americans and highlights the ongoing fight for racial equality. Focusing only on the festive aspects without acknowledging the history can seem insensitive.

What to Do Instead:

  • Recognize the History: Make sure your campaigns acknowledge the significance of Juneteenth and the continuous struggle for justice. This shows respect and understanding.
  • Support Relevant Causes: Use this occasion to support initiatives that promote racial equality. Consider donating to these causes or organizing events to raise awareness. Adidas, for example, awarded $500k in scholarships to the Black & Latinx Community Scholarship fund in 2021-22 and pledged $3 million more through 2025.

 

 

Don’t make the mistake of treating Juneteenth as a single-day event. Your commitment should extend beyond just one day a year.

What to Do Instead:

  • Integrate Juneteenth into Your Culture: Make the values of Juneteenth part of your company culture year-round. This could include diversity training, celebrating Black history, and other ongoing efforts. For example, Mastercard declared Juneteenth an annual company holiday and committed $500 million in financial resources to support Black communities over the next five years.
  • Long-Term Strategies: Develop strategies that reflect a long-term commitment to the Black community. This might involve supporting Black entrepreneurs, offering internships and mentorship programs, and fostering an inclusive workplace.

Juneteenth is a powerful reminder of freedom and the ongoing journey towards equality. Honoring the legacy of this day requires more than just surface-level acknowledgments. To truly connect with Black audiences and show genuine respect, brands must commit to deeper, more thoughtful efforts. Brands who sincerely strive to create stronger, more meaningful relationships with their audiences demonstrate that their commitment to inclusivity is more than just skin-deep.

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