Inclusive language: politically correct or a new engagement strategy?
These are all legitimate doubts because what, in the past, were mere subtleties of the language, today have become important issues for communication, whatever the level and whatever the kind, especially in the digital sphere.
In an age where identity is fluid and subjectivity increasingly defined, language – whether it be visual, textual or simply inferred, as is the case with colours – is becoming a powerful tool which not only opens up new worlds of signification but also makes them real and, more importantly, attracts them. This is great news for people like us whose job it is to give companies an online voice. Because never before has language had the power to redefine digital marketing strategies.
And never before has it been so important to reinvent them.
We can have everything and we can have it now, all it takes is a click and a credit card. That’s digital, baby. In the unlimited world of online sales, specialised e-commerce and click & buy apps, we buy everything, we buy more and, often, without actually seeing what it is we are purchasing.
Although supply knows no bounds, our needs, however, are limited and demand is quickly exhausted. This has led companies to reflect on the values they want to associate with their brand, values we can identify with and which make us choose one product over another. And today one of these values is us or, rather, our subjectivity.
Our buyer persona is becoming more and more defined and profiled, including our consumer habits, gender identity, the music we listen to, our ideological and political choices and even the perception we have of each other.
In this new construction of the self, where culture, society and the market merge, choosing inclusive language is essential because it is precisely language which identifies and legitimizes us.
When developing a correct digital communication strategy for a brand, it is essential to consider all the inclusive potential of language, not just to prevent discrimination – for instance, nowadays referring to 8 March as a “celebration” (the word most commonly used in Italy to remember this occasion) and not as the more correct “International Day” for women can provoke vicious flame wars on every social wall – but to effectively connect with the most suitable user group and achieve the best possible engagement, build more authentic and reactive communities and define even clearer brand awareness.
It’s not that simple: using inclusive language is only a success if it involves all the digital touchpoints in your strategy in an organic and coherent manner, modulating all actions and content.
Copy, CTA, tones of voice, even editorial issues, ambassadors, social media management and customer care must all adopt inclusive and balanced language.
This will help build a stronger – and more genuine – bond with your users and make you more engaging and effective. Or, put another way, it will help you do your job better.