Branding and Marketing

Certification will be successful if it becomes a mark of pride for businesses and an attraction for customers. Creating and marketing a clear, compelling and well-respected brand will be essential to nurturing an environment where certified businesses are in-demand and emulated.

Desired Outcomes

A proposed marketing strategy, including proposed branding (i.e., visuals, wording, and effective tools) and a recommended plan for implementation

Phase 1 Findings

Relating certification to customer experience

Messaging could focus on how certification can highlight and promote the customer experience. Businesses are more likely to see the value in accessibility if it is tied directly to their customers’ needs. Putting a human face to accessibility through stories and vignettes would further help businesses make the connection between accessibility and their customer base. Certification may also help businesses tap into new markets: for instance, striving for increased access could appeal to the large demographic of aging seniors.

Appealing to business

There is a strong economic argument for accessibility. The certification model will need to clearly communicate this argument as well as the benefits of universal access in order to promote uptake. Marketing that uses language and tools already familiar to business (e.g., profit, rationale, organizational efficiency; a star or rating system) will help. Further, celebrating accessibility champions and success stories could foster competitiveness and collaboration among businesses.

Enhancing visibility through branding

Effective branding could encourage awareness of accessibility, position access as a mainstream competitive edge and signal accessibility to customers. These outcomes rely on businesses taking pride in displaying their accessibility. Simple and recognizable branding, in the form of logos, published scoring, and advertising through a variety of media (as with LEED, Better Business Bureau, and B Corporation) could help.

Additional Context for Phase 2 Discussion

Branding and marketing can address attitudinal barriers by spreading awareness on a topic and giving recognition to those achieving excellence in that area

  • For example, the Disability Confident Campaign in the UK has spread awareness throughout the country through a dedicated information campaign, special events, and recognizable branding
  • The Accessible Britain Challenge Awards, held in 2015, recognized councils, service providers and businesses that made an outstanding contribution towards more inclusive and accessible communities

Several successful existing programs use marketing and branding as incentives for participation.

  • For example, ACCESSIBILITY PASS offers certified hospitality organizations a label to display and promotion through partner tour operators and booking and tourism websites
  • B Corporation status or Better Business Bureau accreditation are internationally recognized as an indication of quality assurance

Successful branding can substantially increase a program’s reach

  • For example, Fair Trade Certified, ENERGY STAR, Organic Label, or Trip Advisor are all instantly recognizable as logos
  • Images such as the symbol for available Wi-Fi, the Facebook F, or the Apple fruit once needed to be explained by text but can now stand alone

Additional Parameters

  • Branding and marketing should consider feasibility and scalability; the certification model must be financially self-sustaining and scalable to other regions
  • Marketing would need to evolve as awareness of the model and its influence builds
  • Branding would need to be accessible to persons of all abilities and may need to adapt to changing technology, regulations, and jurisdictions over time 

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