Pride With Intention or Rainbow Capitalism?

Actions speak louder than rainbows!

Every June, the world blooms into a riot of rainbow, with corporations decking themselves in colorful flags, glittering promises of inclusivity and, most importantly, Pride-themed merch.

But not all of it is created equal!

Year after year, I observe this annual branding metamorphosis with hope, and a dash of skepticism mixed with cynicism. Because if you’re taking a look at the evolution of Pride month, the merch has progressed from small displays of allyship, often tied to charity, to a rainbow explosion without a clear reason for existing — that sometimes goes way too far.

It’s become clear that brands have, at least, become better at speaking to consumers rather than with them, hiring queer creatives and performers to execute and front their Pride collections, all while collecting the biggest prize on the market: money.

So, we’re aware that corporations often fall short as allies, despite their ubiquitous presence at Pride events. The real question remains: are we ever witnessing Pride with genuine intention, or is it always another chapter in the playbook of rainbow capitalism?

Real change demands year-round commitment.

So, what’s Pride Month?

Let’s start from scratch. Pride Month, and its sparkling parades and celebrations, commemorate the Stonewall riots from New York City in June 1969. Picture it: a hot summer night at the Stonewall Inn, where queer folks, fed up with oppression, decided enough was enough. When violent police raids tried to rain on their parade, they fought back, enduring days of protests that would forever change the landscape of LGBTQIA+ rights.

This event is one of the key moments in the gay liberation movement, rallying the queer community to stand up and demand equal rights and protection from the law—whether by raising their voices or, when necessary, by raising a little hell.

Fast forward to today, and Pride has exploded into a global phenomenon. Cities all over the world light up with rainbow flags, glittering parades, and festivals that draw millions. It’s a time for the LGBTQIA+ community to honor their history, celebrate their identities, and push for the ongoing fight for equality.

The Corporate Pride

Now, let’s go straight to the present time’s capitalist environment. Imagine a corporate office in mid-May: monochrome walls, the hum of business as usual, and everyone racing to meet their KPIs before dreaming of their upcoming vacations. Fast forward to June 1st, and suddenly, it’s a whole new world. The company slaps a rainbow on their logo, social media avatars are filled with Pride-themed filters, and hashtags like #LoveIsLove and #PrideMonth flood their marketing materials.

Meanwhile, behind closed doors, the finance department crunches numbers, estimating the potential profit these campaigns could bring in.

It’s basically like watching Clark Kent don his Superman cape—except here, the transformation isn’t fueled by superpowers, but by the promise of increased revenue.

Inclusivity needs practices, not marketing.

Pride with Intention

Yes, of course all companies are looking to make a profit – plain and simple. But, which of those companies are not just capitalizing on their queer consumer market for the sake of marketing?

On one side of the spectrum (pun intended), we have brands that genuinely support LGBTQIA+ rights, not just during June but year-round. These are the companies that walk the talk, investing in policies that promote diversity, equality, inclusion and representation. They fund LGBTQIA+ initiatives, support employee resource groups, and donate a portion of their profits to relevant charities. Their Pride campaigns are thoughtful, crafted with input from the LGBTQIA+ community, and designed to foster real change.

Take, for instance, Ben & Jerry’s. Not only do they roll out deliciously punny Pride-themed ice cream flavors, but they also back it up with substantial advocacy. They partner with organizations, engage in lobbying for LGBTQIA+ rights, and ensure their internal practices reflect their external messaging (read everything about it here, and here, and even here). Now, are you still curious what’s my favourite ice cream?

More brands where I feel safe shopping, deemed worthy of supporting this pride month (and beyond) according to the LGBTQIA+ community? Levis, Converse, and Human Kind.

Now, since Pride Month serves as a reminder of the progress made for LGBTQIA+ representation worldwide, who we should support first and foremost are LGBTQIA+ owned businesses. These businesses are defined as being at least 51% owned, operated, managed and controlled by people who identify as part of the LGBTQIA+ community (including non-binary and gender non-conforming individuals), according to the NGLCC. 

Here’s a short list for you:

Find more in this article. You’re welcome 🏳️‍🌈.

Every voice matters, every step counts.

Rainbow Capitalism

On the flip side, we have the opportunistic bandwagoners—the brands that treat Pride Month as a marketing gimmick. These companies splash rainbows on their products and flood social media with colorful posts, all while ignoring the struggles and needs of the LGBTQIA+ community for the remaining 11 months of the year. It’s a classic case of “slap a rainbow on it and call it a day.”

So, what’s rainbow washing? Put simply, rainbow washing (sometimes also referred to as ‘pinkwashing’) is the practice of using rainbow-themed symbolism in branding, advertising, merchandise or social media, in solidarity with LGBTQIA+ inclusion during pride month, but without active support of LGBTQIA+ people’s identities or rights.

While public support of the queer community by organisations and companies is important to pushing visibility and creating change by social pressure, genuine support means going beyond flashy campaigns and PR tricks—it’s about making real changes that stick.

Using the rainbow logo isn’t just borrowing its imagery—it’s appropriating its history, progressive agenda, and fight for equality, then weaving it into the ABCs of a company’s identity and branding. Remember, branding is a clever marketing tactic designed to attract consumers with specific shopping habits and values.

When companies align their image and values with target consumer groups, it’s a straightforward way to build rapport and boost sales. However, when rainbow branding lacks genuine proactive support, it becomes performative and manipulative. It’s a tactic to polish brand perception and pad profit margins while commodifying Pride symbolism and watering down its powerful message.

How to spot these campaigns? Consider companies that proudly change their logo to a rainbow variant but have a track record of supporting anti-LGBTQIA+ politicians or lack any internal diversity initiatives. Their Pride Month efforts are about as deep as a kiddie pool—shallow and not very refreshing. These brands are often caught in the crossfire of social media scrutiny, where savvy consumers are quick to call out performative allyship. So basically, just check their comment section on Instagram and you’ll know.

Controversial brands regarding their allyship? Here’s a list.

Pride is solidarity in action.

Intent vs. Impact

Companies should look beyond the rainbow show and focus on the impact. Authenticity is the golden ticket in branding. If your support for the LGBTQIA+ community is genuine, it will shine through your actions, not just your advertisements. Here are a few questions to ask yourself:

  1. Is your company’s commitment to LGBTQIA+ rights reflected in its internal policies and culture?
  2. Are you supporting LGBTQIA+ organizations and causes in a meaningful way?
  3. Does your Pride campaign amplify LGBTQIA+ voices and stories, or is it just another sales pitch?

Listen, learn, and lead!

Navigate Pride with Purpose

  • Listen and Learn. Engage with the LGBTQIA+ community to understand their needs and perspectives. Authenticity starts with empathy and knowledge.
  • Year-Round Commitment. Ensure that your support for LGBTQIA+ rights is a 365-day endeavor, not just a month-long affair. 
  • Impact Over Aesthetics. Donate to LGBTQIA+ causes, implement inclusive policies, and create safe spaces for LGBTQIA+ employees.
  • Transparency Matters. Be honest about your journey. If you’re taking steps to improve, share your progress and challenges with your audience.
  • Anti-Discrimination Policies. Establish and enforce anti-discrimination policies to protect LGBTQIA+ employees.
  • Equal Workers’ Pay. Ensure equal pay for equal work, regardless of gender or sexual orientation.
  • Inclusive Sizing and Diversity in Models. Offer inclusive sizing and showcase diverse models in your marketing campaigns.

Celebrate diversity!

In the colorful and beautiful spectrum of corporate Pride, intentions matter as much as actions. And luckily for consumers, whether it’s Pride with intention or rainbow capitalism, consumers are actually becoming increasingly adept at distinguishing between the two. 

Pride is not just a marketing opportunity; it’s a movement for equality and acceptance that deserves more than just a colorful facade.

Now, if you are already doing your part in this movement but you find yourself in need of a helping hand in mastering your representation and inclusivity journey for your brand, just think of us at JOCstudio as your supportive marketing buddies. Feel free to reach out to us at or fill out this form, and we’ll swoop in to save the day – cape and all!


If you want to talk some more, we’re waiting for your DM on Instagram.

Your biggest fan,
Oana Corina Jelea.



The Big Cheese know-it-all
A lot of brand strategy and storytelling, with a sweet tooth for social media marketing. Glued to her phone, juggling posts, emails, pursuing a Ph.D. in 'Environmental Science,' and surviving on minimal sleep. Always open to discussing ethical responsibility, especially after a couple of glasses of wine. Find her on LinkedIn, Instagram and

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