Honoring Juneteenth:
Keys for Brands

Gauge.ai is a software platform that connects diverse leaders with brand decision-makers every day – empowering them to make more informed moves, and avoid costly mistakes. Gauge asked our community of over 13,000 thought-leaders, influencers and experts how brands should approach Juneteenth. 

Do recognize that Juneteenth is NOT Black History Month

Juneteenth is a specific historical marker, honoring the day when federal troops came to Galveston, Texas in 1865 to ensure that all enslaved people were free nearly two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed. It is considered the oldest African American holiday and – on June 17, 2021 – it became an official federal holiday. 

In February, during Black History Month, brands have more leeway to develop creative campaigns that connect to the Black community. But Juneteenth is specifically about this moment in Texas and American history, and is infused with the history of slavery and freedom. Brands should be careful not to commercialize Juneteenth, which is infused with heavier history and a level of sacredness. Which brings us to…

Don’t productize Juneteenth

Because of the history above, very few products should be “branded” Juneteenth. The day is about slavery and freedom – generally not something you’d slap on a package. Would you sell “September 11th ice cream”? Of course not. The same goes for Juneteenth. 

Do connect to local celebrations

That said, there are some great ways to mark Juneteenth – and one of them is to support local Juneteenth celebrations. Around the country – especially in Texas where Juneteenth was born, but in other states as well - local communities host Juneteenth celebrations, commemorations and gatherings. Connect with one of these local celebrations, sponsor, support and amplify. This is a great way to show support and advance brand goals at the same time. 

Don’t visually trivialize slavery and freedom 

No visual depictions of enslaved people being set free. Those subjects are too sacred and too easy to mess up. That’s all. 

Do research with diverse communities

If you have questions about how to impactfully honor Juneteenth or other important cultural moments, do some research with diverse communities! Engage your own employees and customers, or use tools like Gauge to speak directly with diverse thought-leaders around the country. If you do rely on your own staff, remember that if folks are being asked to weigh in on work outside their traditional scope, they should be compensated and rewarded accordingly.  

Don’t laundry-list your accomplishments 

Since the murder of George Floyd, many brands have stepped up to the cause of racial equity and justice in positive and meaningful ways. Find ways to make your customers and employees aware of this work and inspired by your intention to do more, without it feeling like a victory lap. Humility matters during cultural moments like Juneteenth. However much you’ve done, the work is just beginning. 

Do ask your own employees how they are celebrating Juneteenth, and what you can support 

There may be people on your team who are honoring Juneteenth in their own ways – at community organizations, churches, and more. Ask the question and you may get powerful donation, sponsorship or service ideas from within your own community – which is often the very best place to start. 

To learn more about using Gauge to be bold in your support for communities while avoiding misstep, reach out here