Black History Month 2021 has already started, and it is really exciting to see so many brands jumping into the ring to celebrate it this year. This means that more and more companies are embracing diversity, inclusion, and belonging, not only internally, when it comes to HR and company culture, but also in their marketing strategies.
Black History Month is an important occasion and it is celebrated for the annual recognition of the history, achievements, and influence of the Black community.
But it is important for businesses to go beyond simply posting a quote by Martin Luther King Jr. Rather as it is the perfect opportunity to educate your audience, uplift Black creators and businesses, and advocate for change.
There is no denial in the fact that 2020 was a decisive year for the Black community. After protests took place around the world following George Floyd’s killing in the US, people, as well as brands, were looking at the systemic issue of racial inequality with unimaginable rawness. Celebration of black history month is not only about celebrating the past but also about celebrating the contribution made by the generations of those of African and Caribbean descent living in the United States, who have helped in shaping America’s national and cultural heritage.
Here, in this article, we will showcase how brand readiness can be enhanced for black history month and will also check out some initiatives and commitments brands are making this year.
Before we dive into details, let me clear out a doubt that has passed from our minds at least once,
Why is February black history month?
February has been designated as the Black History Month since 1976 by each president of the United States. The origin of this Month can be traced even before 1915 when an organization called the ASALH, led by Harvard-educated historian Carter G. Woodson was formed.
The ASALH started researching the achievements of Black Americans and other people of African descent. In 1926, the ASALH sponsored a Negro History Week and selected the second week of February to identify the birth dates of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass.
The objective behind this was to inspire schools and communities across the United States to organize local celebrations, activities, and lectures in an effort to teach Black history as it had never been taught before. Between 1926 and 1976, mayors all around the country issued annual proclamations to celebrate Negro History Week. By the 1960s, the celebration of a week had transformed into a full month of celebrations and was signified by President Gerald Ford as a national observance in 1976.
Today, Black History Month is also celebrated in other countries globally, including Canada (which celebrates in February) and the UK (which celebrates in October).
Saying this let us have a look at some of the ways in which you can enhance and improve your brand readiness for the Black History Month
- Don’t Limit the Celebration just for a Month
Celebrating and remembering black history only for a month is like showing up to celebrate a friend’s birthday and then ghosting him for the rest of the year.
It might also be seen as exploitative. For example, this has been a big complaint from the LGBTQ community, that the companies that participate in the Pride celebrations have turned them away. They seem to be in it purely for the purpose of corporate gain, instead of actual support for the community.
It’s important to be present, involved, and truly supportive of causes that impact the community. Enhancing your degree of empathy for the plight of a community will go a long way.
- Spread the Message
Celebrating Black History month in the office is great, but how about celebrating in collaboration with more companies. Remember, happiness when shared multiplies. Collaborate with businesses and plan out ways in which you will be celebrating this month, make your celebration big.
Also, there are many advantages to having a distributed employee, there can also be a sense of exclusion, if your organization has an event for Black History Month, or anytime throughout the year, it’s important to think of ways to include the people who work outside of the head office as well.
Celebrating an event with a large audience helps in spreading happiness all over and also spreads the message of the event.
- Bring in Diverse Team Members to Help Shape Campaigns
Target, one of the leading retailers in the United States was praised a lot in 2020 for its Black History Month campaigns throughout their stores. One of the main reasons was that its program was well-received because they worked with their internal employee resource group for African-Americans. These team members gave valuable inputs in helping the company choose products to highlight, and events to host.
If your team is not a representative of the audience you want to celebrate, note that as an area of improvement and opportunity and priority for your recruitment efforts in the future. Then seek out counsel from third parties like agencies or consultants who can help you in filling any gaps in your cultural intelligence regarding particular customer groups.
Diversity, inclusion, and belonging are important elements to prioritize in your marketing, mainly as the makeup of your customers is changing. These consumers with diverse requirements, many of whom have been traditionally ignored or underserved, need you to demonstrate consistently with your marketing that they belong with you.
Conscious efforts that brands are taking to empower the black community
o Facebook – Investing in Skills and Scholarships
During Black History Month 2021, Facebook Elevate will host programming with the theme GenerationBlack. Among the activities will be a discussion called #GenBlack is Skilled covering how a new generation of Black professionals can be key contributors to society.
Elevate is a learning and community platform to accelerate the economic impact of entities of color. Elevate is committed over the next 3 years to reaching 1 million Black and 1 million Latinx and Hispanic members of the community with training in digital skills as well as distributing one hundred thousand scholarships to Black learners working toward digital careers.
o Amazon Alexa – Black History Facts
Black Employee Network of Amazon developed a new skill for Alexa, the popular virtual assistant of the company, in partnership with BlackPast, the Alexa skill serves up black history facts.
Those who have Alexa-enabled devices, such as the Echo or Echo Dot, can say things like, “Alexa, tell black history facts from the 1960s” or “Alexa, tell black history facts that happened in the 1700s.” and get educated with the valuable information about the community. This feature of Alexa also fulfills the basic need behind this celebration, that is, educating people with the Black History.
Black History Month 2021 gives businesses an opportunity to showcase their consumers what they have learned following a year of social unrest and protests for racial justice. That posting just a statement on social media platforms is the bare minimum and consumers are prepared to hold companies accountable to their words. Supporting the Black community is an ongoing commitment for every individual in the country, with the bulk of the work happening offline.
As brands prepare for the Black History Month marketing campaigns, don’t forget that Black history is more than just a trend Approach Black History Month with authenticity and action, and also think about how you can uplift Black communities and culture year-round.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Aashish is currently a Content writer at Martech Cube. He is an enthusiastic and avid writer. His key region of interests include covering different aspects of technology and mixing them up with layman ideologies to pan out an interesting take. His main area of interests range from medical journals to marketing arena.