Conceiving Equality

The word Equality demands attention.  It has been used to support human rights activism throughout the years, and continues to make a difference as women’s rights, immigrantion, and LGBT take center stage.  In good times and in bad, equality is a foundation that doesn’t crack. And yet…

Is Equality too “nice”? 

In a capitalist society like ours, a value like Equality could be perceived as weak. Too easy is it to spin Equality as a politically leftist, socialist, or worse, radical agenda.  After all, our global economy is based on competition. So, whenever Equality enters the picture, there always seems to be a bit of resentment toward it from those who’ve identified themselves as survivors, nay, victors of inequality.  You see, that’s the crux of the American Dream.  There are too many stories of people who’ve overcome obstacles because of their gender, race, sexual orientation, age, etc., that muffle the cause of Equality. In essence, Equality is a threat to the brand of the American Dream that requires an overcoming of inequality. If the American flag had a tagline, it might say “life’s not fair.”  I don’t know if there’s any way to control this – our history is so deep and complex, I wonder if there’s a way to refresh and fortify our dear friend Equality. 

One thought is to consider using it more sparingly in our marketing. Much like accessories finish an outfit, perhaps we can use Equality as an accessory to well crafted messages in our branding and marketing campaigns.

For instance, maybe we don’t use the word Equality at all, and instead think of ways to send the same message through design – i.e. use of photography, typographic treatments, color palettes.  In order to make some of those decisions, we need to get clear on a couple things:

  1. Vision: How does your business or organization view its role in the big picture of promoting Equality? Why does it matter?
  2. Mission: What are you doing today to promote a more Equal world/industry/market?

Answering these questions will help inform your own unique brand of social good, which will help your marketing efforts resonate ever more clearly with your target audience.

Some things to think about:

  • What are the current stereotypical images of Equality? You’ll want to avoid these.
  • What are some ways that you can normalize inequality without losing its meaning? This gets back to the issue of resentment by some “achievers”. i.e. everyone faces inequality, and some are better at overcoming it than others, but this doesn’t mean that instituting inequality is OK.
  • What does someone who’s been discriminated against look like? How does that make you feel?
  • What does someone who’s achieved Equal status look like? How does that make you feel?
  • What do the helpers/advocates of Equality look like? What’s their role? How prominent should they be in your marketing?

I don’t think that there is one right or wrong answer to the above questions – this is where branding your own voice and style can get fun.  Remember, the most powerful messages are often in the most subtle designs.

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