Girl with headphones dancing to music

We’ve all seen the headlines, tweets and social backlash when brands have failed at reaching this audience. Yet, despite the cautionary tales from skin care faux pas to clothing line missteps, brands still find it challenging to connect with black consumers in the right ways. But, it doesn’t have to be hard. It can be much easier if you simply follow this one key to success: Be authentic. To learn how you can be and to hear about a few brands I feel are doing it right, read my recent Adweek article. Or, check out these highlights – my three quick tips to becoming a more authentic brand:

Do Your Research

Marketers should truly understand how their messaging will be received by black consumers before going to market with campaigns. Research and data are paramount.

Simply put, do your homework. Who’s your customer base? What demographic factors are you targeting besides race? Will your campaign messaging interest and engage your customers and prospects? Alienate and repel them? Of course, you should know this well before you finalize your campaign. If you can’t see your creative from all angles internally, hire focus groups to gain new valuable opinions and perspectives. That way, you can see what you’re missing and catch any negative stereotypes or offensive content early on — most importantly, before your campaign launches into the world then nosedives into a massive mistake.

Know Your Audience

Be where your audience is, learn their likes and dislikes, find out what they truly want and need, and know what they expect from you.

To best engage with them, don’t talk at them; truly listen to them. Hear what they have to say and authentically engage with them. When you make building rapport and trust high priorities, you can further strengthen connections and encourage deeper, enduring relationships.

Respect and Empower Black Culture

According to a 2018 Nielsen study, African Americans spend $1.2 trillion annually, which makes them a valuable trend-setting audience with considerable buying power. It’s vital you don’t miss the  mark when building a relationship with this audience. Ensure your creative, messaging and overall campaign has an authentic voice. That way, what you say can resonate and  make more of an impact.

Two brands I believe understand the power of black spending and influence of black culture are Nike and P&G.

Nike’s Colin Kaepernick campaign communicated a message of support and alliance in an authentic way that audiences could connect with. There was also a larger universal message of bravery, overcoming obstacles and standing up for what you believe in.

And P&G’s My Black is Beautiful campaign aimed to inspire 1 million black girls to believe in their beauty, which later led to their Imagine a Future program, creating opportunities for young black girls across the country.

Creating these types of successful meaningful advertising campaigns that truly support social causes, connect with black audiences and make a difference takes a lot of time, effort and care. But, more advertisers can do it – can tell authentic brand stories black audiences can get behind – if only they’re willing to do the research, know their audience, respect and empower black culture, and above all, do one big thing: Have ample black representation at the decision-making level.

If you would like a hand on your journey to becoming a more authentic brand, need help combing  through your research and data, finding and learning about your core audience, and developing the right digital campaign strategy, we can provide the firm direction you need.