A Question of Trust: How Multicultural is Your Marketing?

A Question of Trust: How Multicultural is Your Marketing?

Recent census data reveals that the United States is more multicultural than ever before, with 43% of the total US population composed of people of color in 2020, up from 34% in 2010. But how multicultural is your marketing? 

The brands able to successfully cultivate authentic connections with multicultural audiences will be those who commit the time, research, dollars, and learnings necessary to create culturally appropriate campaigns that build trust. 

When it comes to brand trust, representation and authenticity are key. If you’re leaving 43% of the population out of the conversation, you’re hindering the success of your campaigns before they’ve even made it over the starting line.

Multicultural marketing recognizes the unique needs and behaviors of different cultures and welcomes them through tailored content that resonates. It allows you to differentiate your brand, service, product, or cause through custom-made inclusive messaging with the specific community in mind. 

When you ignore multicultural communications, you’re missing an opportunity to build brand trust with increasingly diverse audiences and the chance to establish long-term loyalty. With this in mind, and in the spirit of marketing for good, here are five tips for building trust through your multicultural marketing.

Examine Your Own Beliefs

Examining your beliefs helps remove any thoughts, feelings, or biases that may be influencing the messaging or strategy of your communications. It is an ongoing commitment to look beyond your culture and comfort zone and recognize diverse audiences' unique thoughts, feelings, and needs. If you want your marketing to be effective, this is a necessary first step to creating a multicultural strategy that is inclusive, respectful, and free from bias. 

Start by exploring your beliefs and how they could influence marketing communication's language, messaging, or direction. Sometimes this requires getting out of the way and letting others lead. Once you recognize these factors, setting them aside and eliminating them from your work is more accessible. Having a diverse team is invaluable and ensures a variety of different viewpoints and cultures are represented. But it’s not enough to simply have team diversity. Creating a culture where every individual feels empowered to speak up and contribute ideas is even more critical. This makes your communications more authentically engaging to multiple audiences as unique perspectives and feedback are captured at the campaign outset. 

Finally, commit to thinking of reaching multicultural audiences year-round and not just ticking a box on seasonal holidays and calendar events — an approach that will never build trust. Steer clear of short-term opportunities, such as Black History Month or Pride, and instead build an ongoing relationship that shows you understand and are thinking of how to reach multicultural audiences twelve months of the year, not only when there’s an easy marketing play. 

Do the Research 

Interpretation is subjective. How a marketing message is read and understood can vary based on external factors like cultural nuances, beliefs, behaviors, traditions, languages, experiences, assumptions, and more. The starting point for any successful multicultural communication should be researched. The more you understand your audience as people and explore how they think and what they need, the better you can adapt your marketing to work for and appeal to them. 

The result? Authentic, empathetic campaigns that draw engagement and build trust. 

If you have a specific priority audience, take the time to discover their unique needs and preferences. Connect with individuals within this group to identify relevant perspectives, trends, and themes. Learn from influencers, advisory panels, community organizations, local businesses, multicultural media outlets, or simply through engaging in social listening. Taking the time to do this and examining whether you may be unintentionally alienating a particular subset through stereotypes or word choice is a necessary step for creating trust with different cultures.  

Keep in mind also that trends and behaviors change quickly. Don’t assume that research carried out six months ago is still relevant and applicable today. Maintain brand trust through proactive, continuous research and evolution of strategy and messaging. Establish a realistic research cadence that also ensures you regularly check in with your priority audience communities. Doing this will help you create genuine, trusted connections that drive results. 

Ultimately, taking time to research helps ensure you avoid offensive mistakes that can damage your brand. 

Multicultural businesspeople
Envato Elements

Don’t Ignore the Visuals

Visuals are a powerful way to convey key details and evoke emotions that further enhance the copy's message. A creative asset's colors and imagery often capture attention and draw the audience in. They also help you to hit the right note and build trust with your audience — meaning they shouldn’t be forgotten or added as an afterthought. The most successful multicultural communications marry the copy and visuals at the outset for maximum results. 

Remember that specific colors, symbols, or visual elements may have specific meanings in certain cultures. So, take the time to educate yourself on these and ensure they aren’t being applied in a way that comes across as inappropriate and damages the trust you have worked so hard to build. 

Next, consider the photos and imagery your marketing will include. Research shows that 75% of consumers are more likely to take action and purchase if they see themselves represented by authentic people who look similar to them in ads. This statistic alone demonstrates the value of ensuring all imagery clearly and authentically highlights the audience you are trying to reach. If a campaign is accompanied by a photo so far removed from a specific individual or culture it aims to speak to, it has already failed in its mission. Avoid this and use your visuals to build trust by including carefully curated imagery that authentically represents the multicultural audience you are serving. 

Avoid Shortcuts

Authentic multicultural marketing should make the audience feel it has been made first and foremost with them in mind. This is critical in establishing a trusted relationship. But nothing says this less than a campaign that has been directly translated from English, with no thought given to the impact of the words in the new language. Direct translations are obvious and careless, giving the impression that this audience segment is not worth the investment.  

It’s essential to ensure you’re capturing the true meaning and intent of the message, not just the words, when translating into new languages. This is because certain words may have specific connotations in one culture and be perceived completely differently in another. Picture this; you’ve spent hours coming up with a playful pun to feature in your campaign, which immediately loses its meaning (and appeal) when directly translated into another language. Not only is this wasted effort, but it’s also likely that the campaign won’t achieve the results intended and resonate with a multicultural audience.

When it comes to building trust, putting the priority audience first and committing to investing in meticulous transcreations vs. quick translations makes all the difference. So, choose a team you trust to take the time and care to select words that convey the intended meaning. This team should be highly specialized in the language nuances and able to remove any barriers and prevent any possibility of miscommunication.

If you can go a step further and connect with local language professionals who are part of the target community, then even better. They will have localized insights into phrases that can be woven into the messaging for an added touch of personalization. This is a great trust signal as it shows the customer you have gone the extra mile to understand them and have invested the time to discover and incorporate relevant and meaningful content to them. Once they recognize this, you have a much higher chance of being their first choice when they need your particular products or services. 

Be Consistent 

When you build a connection and establish trust, individuals are much more likely to listen and respond to what you say. But relationships can’t be rushed. 

Multicultural communications have to be consistently inclusive to maintain loyalty and trust. It is not enough to simply release one campaign and think you’ve won over that customer base. Entering a new market and positioning yourself as a trusted ally takes time and requires long-term effort. So, before starting on the journey, consider your bandwidth and capacity. It is better to start small and consistently deliver and maintain customer trust than go in with a bang only for resources to be tight and for your multicultural campaigns to fizzle and fade. 

Remember that the approach must also be reflected across all your brand touchpoints. It’s confusing and careless to spend time crafting a campaign in multiple languages if they all drive back to your website or a particular landing page that is only available in English. If you’ve drawn the audience in with an upfront promise of multilingual content, build upon this trust by providing website copy in the customer’s language. The same applies to an advert with diverse visuals that resonate with a particular target group. If this customer sees the ad, they may decide to visit your social channels to learn more. However, if they arrive and fail to find any related imagery, they’re bound to leave feeling disappointed and let down. 

Finally, your brand must be unified and consistent internally to be consistent externally. Ensure the vision for your marketing strategy and goals is effectively communicated to and understood by all stakeholders, from managers to copywriters and designers. If the entire team is on the same page, ensuring that everything being produced meets your target audience’s intended criteria is much easier. 

To stay relevant and accessible, there’s no better time to move to a multicultural marketing approach. But remember, the brands that succeed will be the ones who invest the time and preparation needed to build trusted relationships that keep their customers loyal for the long term.

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