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Creating Diversity in Brand Design

For us at Pigeon, diversity goes beyond inclusion for one race or gender – it’s about true inclusion for all. In every area of life.

The topic of diversity has recently come into acute focus like never before; and like many others in the industry, the Pigeon team took time to reflect, attend training with the A2C (see more here: as well as engage in open dialogue with our internal teams, and most importantly, the wider industry.


Earlier this year, the PAC’s ONEOF100 Diversity of Thought Summit invited our President, Elyse Boulet and Director of Strategy & Insights, Christina Essue, to speak about the topic of Building Diversity into Brand Design, alongside partners from Danone, including Fiona O’Brien, Director of Marketing, CHC Canada (Danone Canada) and Fe Amarante, Head of Brand Design & Creative Director, Brand Elevation, Danone North America.

The all-female panel had an open and honest conversation about the lack of diversity in the industry, on both the client and agency side, and highlighted six key ways to make change:


1. Ensure the right diverse voices are at the table

Ensure the teams making the work reflect the world it will live in. This avoids blind spots and accidentally creating insensitive or offensive work.


2. Bottom Up Approach: Influence at the school level

We learned from research that many people from diverse backgrounds are encouraged to pursue traditional careers in medicine, engineering or law, and don’t know about the marketing and creative industry as potential careers. Volunteering to speak to students as early as high school is an important way to allow them to learn about the industry, and show them it’s possible to pursue as a viable career.


3. Engage in intentional self-education

Take the initiative to read, attend courses, volunteer and do what you can to educate yourself and your teams about inclusion. Don’t wait for your company to do this.


4. Put diversity at the core of corporate values

Once you educate yourself and your teams, walk the talk. Put programs and structures in place to make change (e.g. Create Equal Rights Groups, Internship Programs, Mentor Circles, etc.) and implement KPIs that measure success on a consistent basis. For example, Danone Canada created 1DANONE, a leadership group for Black, Indigenous and People of Colour within the organization. 1DANONE supports inclusive diversity through education, development, and community support by engaging the internal and external community in order to support Danone Canada’s goals.

Pigeon had the honour of collaborating with Danone to create a meaningful name and identity for the program, ensuring it’s effective and reflective of the program’s goals. The name and identity 1DANONE is built on the premise of unity and inclusion, whilst having textual symmetry for recognition and visual appeal.

5. Brand design & packaging must reflect the world it lives in

Ensure all of your brand touch-points reflect the world they will live in to connect with audiences in a truly authentic way. Whether it be casting diverse talent, showing different types of families, avoiding cultural appropriation in design and storytelling, or designing with gender neutrality in mind, these topics will not go away and must be integrated into our day to day work work.


6. Move at the speed of culture

This conversation is just beginning, and there are many more dimensions to diversity and inclusion that will emerge. To be a true advocate, you must stay up-to-date, be open to learn, and continuously do your part to make systematic change.

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