In this article, we are interviewing NetBase Quid’s COO, Seujan Bertram, to explore effective brand strategies and potential missteps that some brands make during Pride Month, along with tips for making data-driven decisions moving forward.
Pride Month has become a yearly promotional event for brands, but many brands are realizing their approach needs to evolve. And an increasingly vocal consumer base is pushing back against ‘rainbow washing,’ with investigative consumer/journalists exposing brand actions that do not appear to align with genuine LGTBQ+ support.
Where does your company fall on this support spectrum—and is it making dangerous assumptions about consumer perceptions that do not match up with reality? Our Q&A with NetBase Quid’s COO, Seujan Bertram, follows as we examine these critical brand concerns and ways to maximize Pride Month’s impact with data-driven decisions drawn from a single, unbiased source of truth.
Q: What are you seeing broadly this Pride Month, both as a business leader and as a member of the LGBTQ+ community?
Not only this year, but each year I’m seeing more representation during Pride Month. There are more advertising campaigns and shifts to inclusive imagery not only in brand logos and social channel headers, which is nice to see, but also in content shared. There’s a more thoughtful and correspondingly impactful effort being made. And it’s certainly something I notice as an openly LGBTQ+ executive.
Q: Please expand a bit on that, as we see pushback against “rainbow washing.” Should brands change logos and such during Pride Month?
The bottom line is that representation matters. Rainbow washing—where companies share a temporary shift in focus, marked solely by adding Pride-focused imagery or by selling Pride swag—can be frustrating, for sure. But they lend to the overall awareness of Pride Month. To me, it’s a step in the right direction as every bit of representation lends to the whole. And in an age where we still see Pride celebrations as the exception instead of the rule, I prefer to encourage more involvement as opposed to less.
Q: That dovetails nicely with our next question: How can brands bridge that disconnect and participate in a way that isn’t viewed with skepticism?
Having an ongoing focus on diversity and inclusion year-round is important, one that is mindful of diversity in every variety and includes the LGBTQ+ community. Having a variety of months committed to spreading awareness of historical challenges various marginalized communities face is amazing. Still, it can feel like an afterthought when it’s only mentioned during that point in time. It’s like not keeping up with a friend all year and then sending a quick “happy birthday” text. You may really care about them, but skepticism is warranted as you haven’t maintained the relationship. Brands must put in the work year-round, even in small increments, to build and maintain a trusting and ultimately impactful relationship with these consumers
Q: But it’s not just the LGBTQ+ community they need to worry about here, right? We see Gen Z and the next generation after that—Alpha—as exceptionally aware of these struggles, and they seek out brands demonstrating allyship.
This is true—the younger generations are certainly more inclusivity-minded and direct their buying power toward brands that capture their ideals. This is an important shift we should all pay attention to. I think there are also a number of wonderful brands out there missing out or alienating these audiences unintentionally. It’s worth reiterating support throughout the year to ensure the message is consistent.
Q: Where are we seeing brand success—and what makes these efforts successful? Any particularly impactful successes to share?
Well, success is subjective here—as I view every attempt to participate as a small win—but from a ‘demonstrating a commitment to the community beyond Pride Month’ perspective, Disney comes to mind.
The company has strongly come out in support of the gay and transgender community, expressing deep sadness over newly enacted Florida legislation, and it hosts a “Gay Day” for adults to be kids again. This year, it also launched a Pride Collection, with profits from the month of June donated to a variety of LGBTQ+ organizations. And its ongoing programming continues to evolve, showcasing gay characters. Its most recent Pixar animation, Buzz Lightyear, offers a touching rendition of a lesbian family.
It’s not exclusively about external promotional efforts, though—that’s an important distinction to make here too. The culture a company creates for its employees is equally impactful. When LGBTQ+ people have a seat at the table and can openly exist, with respect and equality, without fear of being fired for being gay (which I experienced early on in my career) and are offered the same access to health benefits—that matters. When a culture is inclusive in this way, it naturally becomes enmeshed in the fabric of the company, and as a natural extension can be found in its marketing.
When I was being recruited for the role of COO at NetBase Quid, I carefully vetted the company and executive team to be sure it’s a place where not only everyone can bring their full selves to work, but we can thrive and be our most creative. I’m proud to say NetBase Quid® supports and maintains this culture, making us a destination employer for top talent. Peter Caswell, CEO of NetBase Quid®, and the rest of the executive leadership team model this, and this extends to our amazing Board of Directors as well. I have a recent example of this, in fact. When I shared our previous Pride post on LinkedIn, Greg Creed, Board Member and former CEO of Yum! Brands, immediately and eloquently shared his support, as well as valuable insight that any brand should take to heart:
Q: Where does NetBase Quid® (and Rival IQ) fit in this mix? How does it help brands maximize efforts to connect with this community?
There are so many ways, really. With a real-time window into the social web partnered with market research, brands have immediate visibility into the hearts and minds of consumers, as well as the ability to track market shifts. I think it’s the nuance of the tool that’s most impressive. We’re able to capture insight to a level of granularity that lends credibility and ultimately confidence in the findings. When it comes to making mission-critical decisions, brands really can’t settle for less, I think. They need a single point of truth that informs strategy, and that one-two combo of consumer and market intelligence is a must
We can track brand awareness, of course, but also—and I’m really enjoying this aspect—we can capture competitive data that offers salient proof points around your efforts. Our combined intel from NetBase Quid® and Rival IQ provides unmatched understanding of a brand’s positioning and its share of voice in a category.
Did that campaign connect with potential consumers as expected? Is the audience responding positively, negatively—not at all? What are consumers seeking that we can provide? Is a competitor experiencing better results—or facing challenges that we can better address in the market?
It’s all readily available and success is only a few clicks away. AI-powered data intelligence offers exciting potential for brands, and I love being part of that discovery. I also love sharing how they can track all of this not only during Pride Month but year-round—and why they should.
Wrap-up: Thanks to Seujan for this insight! And if you’d like to learn more about the many ways that NetBase Quid® can help your brand connect with this growing consumer base, or with any consumer base, be sure to reach out for a demo!