How to get gender-neutral branding right

As the Merriam-Webster’s dictionary announced its 2019 Word of the Year was ‘they’, the coming decade promised fewer gender limits. This includes those boundaries considered ‘normal’ in the marketing and branding world.

With the future looking a lot less binary (McKinsey found that 48% of Gen Z people value brands which don’t define their products as male or female-biased), many brands are starting to consider whether gender neutrality is the right path for their business. Others are already paving the way towards total objectivity in effective and unique ways.

Why choose gender neutrality?

Choosing to take your brand down a gender-neutral route shouldn’t be done without a whole lot of consideration. As with any other marketing decisions, it needs to be made with great care to ensure it falls in line with the business, its objectives and the customers’ needs.

Whether you’re trying to appeal to a younger demographic or believe gender neutrality to be the next natural step for your brand, here are a few reasons why you should consider making your business less identity-biased:

• Perhaps the most obvious benefit gender-neutral brands experience is that they start to appeal to a wider and more inclusive customer base. By focusing on making a brand less binary and more accepting, businesses can make their products or services appealing to more customers than they might realise.

• Working to become more inclusive and break away from binary norms is hard. As such, brands don’t choose to embrace gender neutrality for the sake of it. This is just one aspect of their more complex identity or a wider purpose, such as greater sustainability, embracing body positivity or pushing back against gender stereotypes. This authentic approach is also more appealing and engaging for customers.

• As brands free themselves from the limits of binary genders, they become more balanced and relaxed in their approach. Rather than pushing what they think their customers want to see onto them, they try to engage more authentically, become less removed and cold.

• Girls don’t equal pink and boys don’t equal blue any more. As a result, brands can’t make the same assumptions about their customers, they also can’t be complacent in their audience segmentation. To truly understand customers, brands have to do their research. As Boston Consulting Group found, context has a significantly greater impact on customer decisions than gender does.

• With no assumptions to fall back on, businesses and brands shift their focus on efforts onto the reasons why a customer should purchase their products or services. Meeting their customers’ needs and giving them benefits are increasingly a feature of gender-neutral brands, meaning their offering constantly improves.

More brands are now starting to feel the advantages of turning gender neutral, but how do they build an unbiased identity successfully? Below are some of the best examples.

Creating conscientious fashion

Just like the singer, swimmer and ‘Masked Singer’ winner behind its creation, Prince Neptune; The Label collection has a complex and unique identity. The result of a partnership between Australian celebrity Cody Simpson and fashion agency Slyetica, the brand’s casual style, eco-friendly supply chain and Trident symbol encapsulates his values and beliefs.

This doesn’t just include gender-neutrality, but ‘freedom, confidence and consciousness’.

Stripping back beauty

In a bid to appeal to and benefit customers of ‘all skinkind’, beauty brand MECCA have taken away any frills, fluff or gender biases from their brand. Almost utilitarian in its simplicity, the brand’s 17 product lines, natural and vegan friendly ingredients and focus on making quality skincare more accessible to everyone creates an exciting and authentic alternative to female-focused beauty giants.

Empowering every body

With their simple, bright and inclusive approach, the HUMANKIND brand welcomes everyone into their casual swimwear world. By focusing on creating styles that fit comfortably and support any body type, this brand flies in the face of tiny bikini models and athletic male figures. It’s choice of imagery, friendly approach and straightforward values all make this swimwear brand authentic and appealing as well as gender-neutral.

Switching up suits

Inspired by a frustrating wedding shopping experience, Kirrin Finch’s collections take all the stereotypes of suit tailoring and turn them upside down. No more stiff collars or scotch-drinking models. Instead, Kirrin Finch’s friendly design elements (such as their iconography), straightforward tone of voice and bright, genuine imagery shows that dressing smart and feeling confident should be enjoyed by everyone.

Simplifying inclusive style

Encapsulating the phrase ‘effortlessly cool’ in its collections and branding, One DNA makes its values and beliefs known thanks to its ‘no apologies’ tone and straightforward, subversive approach. From making statements like ‘women are powerful’ and ‘genders united’ to using photography that’s unashamedly different, this brand is refreshingly honest about its purpose and gender-neutral identity.

Less bias equals stronger branding

Breaking free from the limits of gender norms, many brands have discovered more exciting and powerful ways to engage with their customers. Having worked with a range of businesses looking to refresh their approach and stand out from the crowd, the Designmc team can make your branding better, whether its gender-neutral or not.

To find out more, send your enquiry to hello@designmc.org