A Brand Etiquette Guide for Black History Month

The importance of etiquette can’t be overstated. It teaches us how to interact with each other and shows us why specific manners are essential. From basic courtesy words, such as “please” and “thank you,” to proper table-setting lessons from your bougie Aunt Marie, no matter the etiquette rule, the purpose is to be polite and show respect.

As we venture through Black History Month, it’s vital for brands to learn the basic rules of etiquette to consider when celebrating African American achievements.

Don’t half-ass your research

Did you know that educator and historian Dr. Carter G. Woodson created Black History Month? Dr. Woodson encouraged all scholars to study African Americans’ role and influence on American and world affairs. With research being a foundation for Black History Month, brands should consider doing the same. Dedicate a significant amount of time to learning the purpose and history behind the celebration as you build your campaign.

Trust your African American teammates

This rule is simple: Consider your African American teammates’ perspectives. Their knowledge and skills are precious to your organization. They are your experts, so let them lead. Many opportunities are lost when brands don’t take a chance on ideas they may not fully understand due to cultural differences.

Look at it like a trust fall: They’ve got your back.

Stop being cheap

A champagne moment doesn’t deserve beer pockets. With the Super Bowl falling into Black History Month, millions of dollars are spent on 30-second spots. Many brands don’t allocate 1% of that budget for the 28 days of Black History Month.

Set a healthy budget, and have fun. We’re celebrating Black culture.

Say no to double-dipping

The sauce would go sour if we all kept double-dipping our chips into one dip. That’s why using the same campaigns or tactics year after year should be avoided. Campaigns that highlight donations to the NAACP or feature Black History Month trivia are great, but it’s important to note that Black people are not monolithic, and many other organizations are just as meaningful to them.

Shine a light on new organizations and ideas. Be creative, and show your audience something fresh.

Do the right thing

Much like the Spike Lee classic film “Do the Right Thing,” representation matters. Don’t just talk the talk of equity, diversity, and inclusion; be about them. Brands should consciously try to diversify their leadership and provide a comfortable space for people to be their authentic selves.

The moral of this story is don’t get your hand spanked for having terrible brand manners. Follow these basic etiquette rules to create a more effective and tolerable Black History Month campaign. After all, we are celebrating one of the greatest months of American history and world history.

Let us know your etiquette rules for celebrating Black History Month.

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