Hero Collective

words by

Kimberly Heard, M.S.

February 01, 2023

culture hack

Looking Beyond the Blackest Month of the Year

In recent years, more and more brands have been forced to look beyond their 28-day approach to Black History Month. As consumers have become skeptical of anything unauthentic or impersonal, brands must push their marketing to not only encompass the multidimensionality of the Black experience, but also not tokenize BHM as the only month that can recognize Black creators, innovators, and trailblazers. As the world becomes more familiar with the multi-faceted nature of the Black experience, marketing campaigns are beginning to move past the fundamental or one-dimensional understandings of Black communities.

Take for example Jack Daniel’s. The beverage brand is celebrating its third annual Black History Month storytelling campaign, Every Legacy Has a Beginning, which not only highlights Black-owned businesses on its social media but also creates a year-round website to view their longevity and success. This is a prime example of thinking “beyond the month.”

Secondary recommendations for Black History Month and beyond may include tapping into the new theme of Afrofuturism, a cultural aesthetic, philosophy of science, and history that explores the intersection of African Diaspora culture and technology. Marvel’s Black Panther showed us the fictional version of a Black society thriving in the future. Brands would be smart to highlight Black scientists/innovators or fashion designers on the cusp of the future, turning Black History Month on its head and becoming Black Futures Month.

The athleisure fashion line, Yitty by Lizzo understood the afro-futurism concept as it honored BHM. “Black history month celebrates the perseverance and survival of our culture. While we honor Black History Month by working with afro futuristic designers and by proudly being a Black-owned business, we also want to remind everyone that every month is Black History month. Every day we celebrate that, we are making better steps toward the future.” Understanding the momentum and gravity of the Black future is an idea more and more innovators are as they go “beyond the month”. Ivy Briana, Founder of Rolla Magic believes that “BHM means celebrating the depth and multiplicity of Blackness. Celebrating what your Blackness looks like, not what anyone tells you it looks like.” As the world continues to understand the many faces of Blackness, designers, innovators, and creators are also realizing they have due diligence to proudly show their authentic Blackness.

However, the true key to Black History Month is to not only highlight Black trailblazers during BHM but rather follow through and track their stories. Too often BHM initiatives are highlighted but never sustained. Recognition of Black communities is not a trending cultural moment with a time limit, but rather they are a timeless integral core of society. The brand that can sustain and elevate the importance of this unique experience can win in the eyes of Black communities.

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