"Diversity is in our DNA": Titanium Worldwide brings inclusion & representation to advertising

Collage of Titanium's work.

There has been a collective wake-up call in many corners of the media, marketing, and communications industries over the past few years. The Black Lives Matter movement, for one, and countless calls for racial and social justice have led to more and more brands wanting to authentically connect with their customers — all of their customers. There are incredible opportunities to move the needle on diversity and inclusion in advertising — it's here, at the center of this movement, that you'll find Titanium Worldwide.

Titanium is the world’s first collective of certified-diverse agencies and consulting firms, and this means that all of our members are recognized by the WBENC, NMSDC, and/or the NGLCC. Its mission aligns closely with my first agency The Mixx. We founded Titanium so we could adopt a radically different full-agency model and join forces with specialized independent agencies spanning all industries, verticals, and audiences. This gave us the scalable and flexible model we needed to start winning bigger, more impactful contracts. And this has meant that our collective of agencies, all of which are minority-owned and operated, now have a hand in shaping a more equitable and representative media landscape.

Helping clients move forward towards long-term change

We are on the brink of making a real, meaningful difference in our work, ensuring the campaigns we create are built from the ground up to be diverse, representative, and inclusive. When we collaborate with our clients, we start by helping them understand that one size does not fit all with their marketing initiatives and campaigns. With each client, we work to first uncover the core objective of their project, then we bring forward strategic ideas and concepts to give clients different pathways that they can choose from, all of which put diverse voices at the center.

I am proud to say Titanium is now at the forefront of defining what authentic diversity and inclusion looks like in marketing and advertising. Much of this progress has happened through honest and open conversation with clients — when diversity and inclusion buzzwords pop up in meetings, we talk about the ways they can be translated into real work that makes it online and on air. This isn’t possible if anyone at the table is scared to speak up for fear of saying the wrong thing.

Image of Titanium Worldwide's website.

There is a certain sense of love, community, and safety that we create for people to be able to collaborate and talk through these issues. The questions that we ask can be difficult, and we are trying to help our clients take small steps, so they can feel good about their gradual progression forward.

I say we are "on the brink" of change because there is still a lot of work to do. Every company is at a different stage. It’s a slow process, but we are making progress.

Creating authenticity with the help of Adobe Stock

In a highly visual world, finding the right photos and videos for the projects we work on is key. When we first started Titanium, just a decade ago, there was a major shortage of diverse stock imagery and footage. We found ourselves spending a lot of time and energy looking for original, authentic content.

It was when we moved to Adobe Stock that we were finally able to start sourcing hidden gems that were not commoditized and hadn’t been overused. Imagery and engaging video footage is a really important part of establishing a brand. It tells a story, and it's important to us to find content that's telling the entire story of our diverse team members across the collective — both for our clients as well as for our own brand expression. These assets are then incorporated into our overall workflow in InDesign, Photoshop, Illustrator, and Adobe XD.

Quite often, our clients realize that the imagery they have been using is simply not a reflection of what they need it to be or how they want to communicate to diverse audiences. In these cases, we often work with them to build out their own asset library. This goes beyond just finding imagery and dynamic videos that show diverse talent — we also source diverse photographers and illustrators from underrepresented communities, for example via the Artist Development Fund, an initiative under the Adobe Stock Advocates program and in partnership with the Adobe Creative Residency. This allows us to directly support artists financially and truly amplify their work.

It’s beautiful, and I’m constantly blown away by the assets that we find — and so are our clients.

The power of (better) marketing

Through the work we do, I want to encourage future generations to see the value and importance of marketing, media, and communication. People make decisions based on the advertising they see. As marketing agencies, we have the power to shape this relationship — to show the world as it truly is, with all of its diverse voices, and make it a better place in the process.

If we can change the narrative when it comes to inclusion and representation, then we have the chance to shift how people are communicating and interacting with one another.

In the end, it’s all about bringing the heart and soul of what matters to people to the forefront, and that is only accomplished by making sure everybody is seen, heard, invited, and most of all, valued.