Rainbow Washing: the Do’s and Don’ts of Brands Celebrating Pride

June 1st marks the start of Pride month across North America. In a gesture of support and allyship to queer consumers and employees alike, June 1st is also the day many major brands turn their social media icons rainbow. 

Brands showcasing support for the LGBTQ2S+ community and sharing diverse stories should be a no-brainer. According to The Pride Co-op, a LGBTQ-focused market research and intelligence agency, US LGBTQ spending surpassed 1.4 trillion dollars in 2021.  But if this is not done in an authentic, action-driven and intentional way, it falls flat and can actually be damaging.

Enter the rise of Rainbow Washing – where brands look to monetize the rainbow and jump on the Pride bandwagon.  We’ve put together a quick list of Do’s and Don’ts to ensure that your marketing messaging resonates.


DON’T: Use the rainbow on marketing, social media, in mailers or products without having a true connection or long-term action plan that supports LGBTQ2S+ in a more meaningful way.

DO: Create rainbow products that give back to the LGBTQ2S+ community through charity initiatives – make a commitment to a dedicated LGBTQ2S+ organization and ensure that any support for the rainbow flag is long-standing and never a one-and-done activation


DON’T: Execute a one-and-done influencer campaign during Pride or offer reduced rates to members of the queer community.

DO: Feature LGBTQ2S+ voices and storytelling from influencer campaigns to content marketing throughout the calendar year as well as during Pride.  Your company should have a plan to support and reach the queer community 365 days a year.


DON’T: Turn your icon rainbow without making sure your company is not offering superficial support that looks opportunistic.

DO: Make sure your brand has inclusive and fair practices to all LGBTQ2S+ employees and those internal practices align with external messages.  If you are planning a LGBTQ2S+ campaign, ask for feedback in advance from your team members that identify as queer.


It’s important to recognize the difference between speaking vs. amplifying. An organization’s role throughout Pride should be that of an ally, rather than be the center of attention themselves. While it’s also natural to support local efforts, advancing rights and equal treatment on a global scale is crucial, as many parts of the world have more inequality and injustice than others. None of us are equal until everyone is.