LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – MAY 08: Halle Bailey attends the World Premiere of Disney’s live-action feature “The Little Mermaid” at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles, California on May 08, 2023. (Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Disney)


There is no single formula for creating an inclusive brand. However, successful inclusive brands share certain core principles that allow them to genuinely appeal to a larger and more diverse audience.

Disney is embracing several of these principles, such as representation and staying true to their values, as they prepare to release the live-action version of the beloved classic, The Little Mermaid.

Undoubtedly, representation plays a significant role in this adaptation of the movie, as Disney has cast singer and actress Halle Bailey, who is Black, in the role of Ariel.

As a result of this casting decision, there was immediate backlash, with some individuals expressing outrage, making complaints, and even racist comments about Disney’s decision to reimagine the fairytale with a non-white actress. However, since Disney is committed to their values surrounding diversity and inclusion, they did not allow the negativity to derail their plans.

The partnerships your brand engages in are important

Inclusive marketing goes beyond simply encouraging underrepresented and underserved communities to purchase more of your products or services. It’s about creating a sense of visibility and belonging, and elevating communities that are often marginalized.

Many brands struggle to effectively elevate communities in their inclusive marketing efforts. There are various strategies for elevating the communities of the customers you aim to serve, particularly through collaborations such as partnerships, features, cultivating a diverse team, and expanding your base of suppliers.

It’s uncommon for a brand to operate entirely independently. Therefore, as you strive for inclusivity, it’s crucial that the individuals and organizations your brand partners and collaborates with are reflective of the communities you’re seeking to connect with.

With the casting of a Black actress as Ariel, Disney has taken a step towards making the Black community and other people of color feel included. A logical continuation of this effort would be to collaborate with a brand from the community, further enhancing the sense of belonging and representation.

This is precisely why Disney’s collaboration with Carol’s Daughter was a savvy decision. The hair care brand, now under the ownership of L’Oreal, was established by Lisa Price, a Black woman who remains an integral part of the company and is highly regarded among long-time customers of the brand.

Carol’s Daughter has a strong presence and history within the Black community, but is also widely used by individuals with textured and curly hair who do not necessarily identify as Black.

The limited edition products resulting from the collaboration between The Little Mermaid and Carol’s Daughter will not only introduce new audiences to the movie and attract new customers to Carol’s Daughter, but also reinforce Disney’s dedication to inclusion and diversity.

As your brand strives to become more inclusive and cultivate a more diverse customer base, it’s important to seek out partnerships with individuals, brands, and suppliers who are representative of the communities you aim to connect with.

Not only will partnering with individuals and brands from the communities you seek to serve allow for a more natural and authentic introduction to new audiences, it will also enable you to better serve those communities. Furthermore, collaborating with and compensating members of those communities can contribute to their elevation.

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