The Importance of Using Diverse Imagery in Campaigns
All great advertising or marketing campaigns, no matter what they are selling or what company they’re promoting, have one thing in common—they connect with the target audience. That often means reflecting their lives and aspirations—not retouched or staged. This “realness” makes your marketing feel authentic. Using diverse imagery is one way to achieve it.
Photography and video that portrays people of different races, ages, ethnicities, body types, abilities, and more—is increasingly important to successful marketing campaigns. Why? Because consumers are more diverse than ever. A 2020 study found that searches for diverse workplace, diverse group, and multicultural group grew by more than 160% from 2018 to 2019.*
More than a trend, this triple-digit boost shows that diverse imagery is a necessary tool to help brands show that they understand and respect their audiences—not just as potential customers—but as dynamic, authentic individuals who also share much in common. Sure, there’s a social benefit, but it’s good for the bottom line too. Deloitte’s ‘The Value of Diversity in Advertising’ study 2019 found that brands with the most diverse casting in ads saw higher stock growth—44% average stock increase over the past 2 years, and Google’s 2019 study on inclusive ads found that 64% of people took some sort of action after seeing an ad that they considered to be diverse or inclusive.
A 2020 approach to diverse imagery goes beyond the tokenistic portrayal of different races and depicts an array of people in non-stereotypical ways. Here are just some of the factors to consider when making your visual content more diverse.
Race and ethnicity
Race and ethnicity encompass a potentially limitless combination of skin colors, cultural traditions, and national origins. Showcasing this in a truly diverse way means featuring people from a wide range of racial and ethnic backgrounds, including mixed race and multiple race origins, as well as indigenous people and others from under-represented groups.
Promoting gender diversity once meant incorporating images of strong, independent women, but gender is a broad concept encompassing attitudes, feelings, roles, and behaviors. It can help to think of gender in two ways—gender identity, how you see yourself, and gender expression, the outward expression of gender identity. Conventionally defined as masculine and feminine, gender is complex and fluid and has grown to encompass androgynous, trans, other identities. Imagery featuring people of different genders can be a powerful tool to add more diversity to your marketing.
Portraying people of diverse sexual orientations means more than images of same sex couples and rainbow flags. Showcasing LGBTQ+ people (the umbrella term LGBTQ+ encompasses a panoply of orientations outside of heterosexuality) in non-stereotypical careers, enjoying parenthood, growing older, and more is another way to bring diversity and authenticity to your brand.
Showing realistic and diverse bodies is a bold and inclusive step that can help your campaign stand out and even boost brand perception. Traditionally, marketing and advertising have promoted unrealistic body types from predominantly young, white models. Using imagery that portrays people in all their shapes, sizes, and complexions can connect with audiences in a way that feels very authentic—every brand’s goal.
Imagery that features people living with disabilities, can help shift away from stereotypes and good intentions, and focus instead on the richness and complexity of their real lives. Highlighting the individual, rather than their physical or cognitive impairment, reflects the reality that millions of consumers live active, dynamic lives in spite of visible or invisible disabilities—and they, and the people in their lives—deserve to be recognized.
Marketers often overlook this universal truth—we all get older. Older consumers are a powerful and growing demographic, but a study conducted by YouGov found that 79% of people over 50 don’t believe they are accurately portrayed in advertising. Featuring older people (50+) in your campaigns, helps your marketing reflect the real world, and gives you a greater chance of tapping into this increasingly important market.
According to market research, over two‑thirds of consumers say it is important to them that the companies they buy from celebrate diversity of all kinds. iStock gives you unparalleled access to exclusive collections, photo researchers, photographers, illustrators, and designers who can help you source unique, diverse imagery for all your marketing needs. See how iStock can help you cut through the noise, build brand awareness, and connect with your customers.
*Getty Images Top 1 Million Global Year over Year Searches, January 2020