Blogs by InnovatorsBox®

Rethink DEI in Marketing by One GIF at a time

When I used to think of ‘marketing,’ I often associated with billboards or TV commercials that we see in passing. But that’s changing. Now it’s what Instagram story takeover, TikTok campaigns, and Youtube sponsorship. As I study music business and creative entrepreneur at Breklee College of Music, I’m constantly studying (and investing) how the art of marketing is changing and connecting artists and their fans. This is why I’ve been asking these questions a lot more recently as I find myself spending hours online in front of ads after ads:

Why do I perfectly remember that commercial from my childhood?

Why do certain campaigns seem tone deaf – while others seem empathetic and impactful?

How does marketing resonate with a single person – and then quickly spread to others?

But the single most important question is:

What makes marketing… marketing?

Innovator's Expressions 2

Celebrate diversity and creativity with us! We're thrilled to return with a new series of original GIFs from innovators. Thank you to our IB team and community for sharing your voice. Share the GIFs!


In my weekly case studies of campaigns and advertisements for class, I’m gaining insights that companies today have forgotten. I’ve learned that no matter what industry you’re in, there is an organic and human-centric drive in the marketing process that textbook marketing terms can’t teach you. Customers find connection with marketing that represents them – almost like a mirror effect. When they clearly see their identity and values reflected back by a product, person, or campaign, that causes them to wholeheartedly support that cause through and through.

Why diversity in marketing really matters

Connecting with customers can take many different forms, but the lens I found most deficient was diversity and inclusion. I’m Asian American, female, and Gen Z. I have a voice and multiple interests like everyone else. Yet whether it’s movie, art, or marketing that I see, many are still skewed. I know more companies are trying but I’d say we could all still do better. This is why I loved the opportunity to work on the Innovator’s GIF Expression project a few months ago creating original GIFs that our very own team members at InnovatorsBox made. 

So that the next time you need a “thank you” or “I’m cool” now you have someone who may look more like you than a random person who doesn’t look like you. I appreciated that my supervisor, Monica H. Kang Founder & CEO of InnovatorsBox® wanted to do this as another GIF content user as I was eager to see more diversity and inclusion be presented online overall – whether marekting or not. But again this is where the nuance I realize was key. Monica shared how the goal was always to represent diversity and encourage all innovators to feel heard. It wasn’t to sell a product. It was to give innovators a voice. To make innovators feel heard.

This is why I deeply resonated with that and why I was thrilled to do another series together.

In my research and personal experience, I saw the GIPHY options dominated with a certain celebrity or singular race/ethnicity/identity. And I felt that many GIPHY users also felt the same way – that there wasn’t one perfect GIF to entirely represent who they are as people. So, reviving this Innovators’ Expressions project fueled my unquenchable need for accessibility and representation that covers all identities and industries, especially when our team here at InnovatorsBox is one of the most diverse I’ve had the privilege to work with. I’ve also found that my passion lies in using this platform to connect others – and our diverse team and community as well.

Innovator's Expressions 2

Celebrate diversity and creativity with us! We're thrilled to return with a new series of original GIFs from innovators. Thank you to our IB team and community for sharing your voice. Share the GIFs!


And I’m not alone

This round, we invited not only our team members but our community to join us. We’re so grateful that 13 innovators from 10 cities said yes to taking a moment to be goofy with us and sharing their voice as an innovator. Just like how I felt about searching online and not finding a GIF, I know that when someone sees one of their GIFS it would bring a new smile and reminder to say hey, here is someone who looks like me who is innovating and making things come to life. I was excited to have the moment to interview some of them over email with Monica as they shared about their experience participating but also why they also care about diversity, inclusion, and equity in marketing – including the GIFs we use!

Monica: Why are diversity and inclusion in marketing important?

Alice Hu

Founder and CEO of Woo Woo Company
Los Angeles / Formerly in Washington DC

Alice Hu

From an AAPI perspective: People largely ignore AAPIs because they think we're a small part of the population and don't have enough buying power. Honestly, it's just because the people in leadership positions don't look like us. I think that people are beginning to realize that AAPIs have buying power and will show up when something resonates with us. Just looking at the newest two Marvel movies really shows that American are dying for more diversity and showing that in how they spend their money.

Jan Wong

Serial Entrepreneur, Author, Founder of Open Minds

Jan Wong

One of the important keys of marketing in this target is brand relevance. We live in an ultra globalised world today where news, movement and cultures are experienced in a huge digital melting pot - which raises the challenge of relevancy where brands have to take a glocal (global yet local) approach in its communications to ensure it remains inclusive across different markets.

Lumbie Mlambo

Founder and CEO of JB Dondolo

Lumbie Mlambo

Inclusiveness means no one is left behind. No one person is better than the other. That’s how we close the gender equality gap that women have experienced for years. To be fair, we have to include everyone. Everyone deserves an equal chance to the privileges granted to all. Therefore, diversity and inclusion in marketing is important because so that we look beyond preconceived notions of our status in race, gender and sexuality to allow us to deliver our message that reflects the diverse audiences (everyone included).

Monica: Do you use GIF and what did you think of GIF’s lack of diversity when using?

Alice Hu

YES. So many of these GIFs and memes are from movies. Movies are still not diverse enough.

Monica: What was your favorite part of participating in this project?

Lumbie Mlambo

My favorite part was filming myself with various expressions that made me realize how much of certain facial expressions and body languages I use. It made me think of how that could be perceived by others or even misinterpreted. We do certain things without thinking sometimes because it’s part of who we are, it’s what makes each of us unique, and perhaps those things we do “subconsciously” define who we are. 

Thank you Jan, Lumbie, and Alice for taking a moment to sharing your thoughts with me and Monica. I’m so happy to hear this as well as see more diverse expressions from many others:

But how much could one GIF really make a difference? Well maybe not much to some but for me it does. It means the next time I look up something online, I see that there is someone else who looks like me and who isn’t a celebrity. It makes me feel I can show up the way I am and encourages me and others to find our voice. It reminds me that marketing is not just about selling but really also speaking up for important values and also being present for your community. It reminds me I can do that too with one GIF at a time.

So here it is new GIFS, new expressions, and new stories all made by InnovatorsBox’s teams and it’s community who are eager to represent you and bring a smile to your face. Find us at “InnovatorsBox” at any GIF searching platforms. Here is our GIPHY page where you could see our new GIFs and our former ones. Use them, share them, and have fun with them to express your voice! We wanted to communicate a new round of emotions that you’re probably feeling – excited for warm autumn drinks, curious to find that new read, appreciative of your furry friends, as well as confident when strutting in a new outfit.

As I reflect on this GIF collection project I’m reminded of the importance of diversity, inclusion and equity in marketing again. Seeing my colleagues and community’s geniune expression reminded me how I want to make sure I also speak my voice, emotions and thoughts with courage. I felt that our GIPHY spaSeeing my colleagues genuinely express themselves while working on this project is such a rewarding and inspiring experience. I was able to reflect yet again on the emotions that I wanted to share with the world – and find the courage and play to do that. I felt that our GIPHY space was becoming my own personal space – and I found more purpose in diversifying our narrative so that others could be inspired to create their own safe space has become my own personal space where I could express myself. 

I hope you feel seen and heard. I hope this makes you laugh. I hope you are reminded that you are limitless. And I hope you are reminded you are not alone. 

As InnovatorsBox and I continue to navigate GIF and various creative content we’ll be listening to you and the community on how to celebrate diversity. So let me know. Is there an expression that we should try? Is there a representation that we should have more? What was your favorite GIF and why? Share me your thoughts and questions and I’ll ask Monica and the team on how we could take this to the next level in round 3. Thank you again for stopping by and reflecting on how to celebrate your voice and others with one GIF at a time.

Happy holidays!

Innovator's Expressions 2

Celebrate diversity and creativity with us! We're thrilled to return with a new series of original GIFs from innovators. Thank you to our IB team and community for sharing your voice. Share the GIFs!


About the Author

Picture of Kelly Gravo

Kelly Gravo

Kelly Gravo is a Creative Intern at InnovatorsBox®, focusing on music and podcast projects for InnovatorsBox Studios. In her time away from interning, she studies Music Business Management & Creative Entrepreneurship at Berklee College of Music. Her mission as an artist is to study and support creatives of all facets - so that they can flourish artistically.

At InnovatorsBox®, Kelly’s focus is on music and podcast marketing - through the lenses of diversity, empathy, compassion, and transparency. She believes that by focusing on “purpose not product,” brands can best connect with people who see themselves within.

In her personal time, Kelly loves reading and developing visual content on Instagram and YouTube. She also advocates for AAPI creatives in her school club work with Asian Americans in Music and Entertainment (AAIME) and K-Pop Initiative (KPI).

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