Building Cultural Equity: Brands as Contributors to Youth Culture

The influence of brands goes far beyond marketing products. Today, brands are becoming key contributors to the cultivation of cultural equity among the younger generation. This dynamic relationship between brands and youth culture reshapes how we perceive and engage with societal values, diversity, and inclusion.

From authentic representation in marketing campaigns to supporting initiatives that empower underrepresented voices, brands are actively shaping and amplifying the diverse narratives that define contemporary youth culture.

How Brands Shape Cultural Equity

Cultural equity refers to the fair and just representation of all cultural communities, ensuring that diverse voices, perspectives, and expressions are given equal opportunities and recognition. It is a concept that seeks to rectify historical and systemic inequalities in the distribution of cultural resources, access, and influence.

Brands have the potential to be powerful agents of positive change within youth culture, actively contributing to the building of cultural equity. Here are several ways in which brands can make a positive impact:

Authentic Representation:

Diverse Marketing Campaigns: Showcase a diverse range of voices, backgrounds, and experiences in marketing campaigns. Authentic representation helps break stereotypes and fosters a sense of belonging among young individuals.

Inclusive Product Development:

Consideration of Cultural Nuances: Brands can engage in thorough research to understand the cultural nuances of their target audience. This knowledge can inform product development, ensuring that offerings resonate with and cater to the diverse needs of youth communities.

Support for Underrepresented Communities:

Community Partnerships: Collaborate with and support organisations that work towards empowering underrepresented communities. This can include education, mentorship, and skill development initiatives, contributing to a more inclusive and equitable society.

Amplification of Marginalised Voices:

Platform for Expression: Provide a platform for marginalised voices to be heard. This can be through partnerships with content creators, supporting independent artists, or hosting events celebrating diversity in art, music, and culture.

Cultural Education and Awareness:

Educational Campaigns: Brands can run educational campaigns that raise awareness about different cultures, histories, and social issues. This contributes to cultural understanding and helps combat stereotypes and prejudices.

Sustainable and Ethical Practices:

Environmental and Social Responsibility: Brands can align with values that resonate with the youth, such as sustainability and ethical practices. This can contribute to a positive brand image and attract socially conscious consumers.

Digital Engagement and Social Media Advocacy:

Active Social Presence: Engage with youth on social media platforms meaningfully. Brands can use their influence to raise awareness about social issues, promote positive conversations, and create online spaces that foster inclusivity.

Listening and Responding:

Open Dialogue: Actively listen to feedback from the youth audience. Brands that are receptive to input and adapt their strategies based on feedback demonstrate a commitment to understanding and meeting the evolving needs of their audience.

Investment in Innovation and Technology:

Tech for Social Good: Leverage technology for positive social impact. Brands can invest in innovative solutions that address social issues, promote inclusivity, and contribute to the betterment of youth communities.

Culture Shapers: Brands that Redefined Youth Culture and Their Transformative Impact

A growing number of brands have become integral to youth culture by understanding the younger generation's values, preferences, and aspirations. Here are some examples and the impact of their contributions:


  • Contribution: Nike has ingrained itself in youth culture through powerful marketing campaigns celebrating diversity, individuality, and athleticism. Their support for social justice causes, such as the "Just Do It" campaign featuring Colin Kaepernick, resonated strongly with the youth.
  • Impact: Nike's authentic approach has solidified its position as a brand that provides high-quality athletic gear and stands for social issues that matter to the younger demographic.


  • Contribution: Apple's innovative products and sleek design have symbolised creativity and modernity among the youth. The company's emphasis on individual expression and user experience has created a strong emotional connection with its audience.
  • Impact: Apple's products, from iPhones to MacBooks, have become essential tools for creative expression, shaping how young individuals connect, communicate, and engage with the world.


  • Contribution: Adidas has successfully tapped into youth culture by collaborating with influencers, artists, and designers. Their partnerships with Kanye West and other creatives have positioned the brand at the intersection of fashion, music, and sports.
  • Impact: Adidas' commitment to collaboration and self-expression has made it a go-to brand for the youth seeking products that reflect their individual style and cultural interests.


  • Contribution: Glossier has disrupted the beauty industry by promoting a natural and inclusive approach to beauty. The brand emphasises realness, featuring diverse models and encouraging customers to embrace their unique features.
  • Impact: Glossier's success demonstrates authenticity, and a focus on individual beauty resonates with the youth. The brand has become a cultural force, challenging traditional beauty standards and inspiring self-confidence.


  • Contribution: Supreme has become a streetwear phenomenon, blending fashion, art, and skate culture. Limited releases and collaborations with artists and designers have created a sense of exclusivity and cultural relevance.
  • Impact: Supreme's ability to create hype and scarcity has turned its products into coveted cultural artefacts. The brand's influence extends beyond fashion, shaping the intersection of street culture and mainstream trends.


  • Contribution: While not a traditional brand, TikTok has profoundly influenced youth culture by providing a platform for creative expression. Its algorithm-driven content discovery and trends have shaped pop culture and created new opportunities for influencers.
  • Impact: TikTok has redefined how content is created and consumed, influencing music, fashion, and internet culture. The platform has empowered individuals to become content creators, democratising creativity.

The journey towards building cultural equity within youth culture is a dynamic and ongoing process, and brands play a pivotal role in shaping this transformative narrative. As we've explored the authentic representations, inclusive initiatives, and innovative strategies employed by forward-thinking brands, it's evident that the impact goes beyond commerce—reaching into the fabric of societal change.

To successfully market to and resonate with the youth market, brands, organisations, and individuals alike must commit to fostering an inclusive environment that celebrates diversity and empowers the next generation. Contact Nerds Collective and let them help your brand lead the way. 

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