Trauma-Informed Branding: How to Create a More Empowering and Inclusive Strategy for Your Brand

Cultivate a deeper connection with your community through a trauma-informed approach.

Illustration of two hands reaching out before they touch in retro style. The extraterrestrial hands coming out of a wormhole in a spiral galaxy shaped phenomenon. The illustration is created using special retro textures for best paper feeling in high resolution.
Artist: Goce Ilievski

As the world grows more interconnected, it’s time to embrace a trauma-informed approach to branding that puts the needs and experiences of your audience at the center. 

Big picture: Considering how things impact your audience helps you to elevate your brand experience with a more empowering and inclusive message. This is about cultivating a deeper connection with your community through a trauma-informed approach.

Understanding trauma-informed branding…

Trauma-informed branding is a strategic approach that allows brands to connect with their clients and communities in more generative and affirming ways. It requires careful attention to psychological safety and respect for individual experiences.

When we understand how trauma has shaped the lived experiences of the people we serve, we can connect on a deeper level through brand touchpoints that help them to feel safe and respected — ready to take bold steps towards something new!

What does trauma have to do with branding?

Trauma is an emotional response to a deeply distressing or disturbing experience. Triggered by a single event, chronic stress, or an unmet need from childhood, trauma touches everyone’s life in some way or another. This emotional response can manifest in various ways, like feeling super overwhelmed, anxious, angry, chronically sad, or even attached to toxic positivity.

“Trauma is the invisible force that shapes our lives. It shapes the way we live, the way we love and the way we make sense of the world. It is the root of our deepest wounds.” — Dr. Gabor Maté

Depending on our flavor of traumatic experiences, we may be sensitive to certain words or images and may find particular messages triggering (often very unconsciously!). We may also be less likely to trust certain brands or disengage if the messaging touches one of those sensitive spots in our psyche.

But what if I don’t know what trauma my audience has experienced?

Don’t worry — you don’t have to pry into the personal lives of your customers, clients, and communities. The great thing is that if you’re approaching your branding from a place of sensitivity to trauma and prioritizing psychological safety, connection, and empowerment, you’ve got a head start!

How can brands use Enneagram insights to resonate better with their audience?

I use the Enneagram to tap into psychographic archetypes for my clients’ audiences. This tool helps us to understand your audience’s values, motivations, and possible early childhood experiences (crazy how accurate this can be!) — and all that shapes their worldview. 

With this knowledge, we craft messaging, visual identities, and campaigns that really hit home and help you build stronger, more meaningful connections. 

Can understanding someone’s unique personality traits help brands tailor messages and content to create an emotional connection?

You bet! By understanding the unique values, motivations, and challenges of different personality types, brands can create messaging and content that will meaningfully resonate with their audience. For example, suppose you’re someone who values emotions and connection. In that case, a brand that highlights those themes in its marketing will resonate more with you. On the other hand, if you’re more logical and analytical, a brand that emphasizes the practical benefits of its product or service might be more your style. The bottom line is that understanding personality can help brands create marketing campaigns tailored to audiences, building stronger emotional connections.

Action plan for a trauma-informed brand strategy…

Once you have an understanding of trauma and its impact on branding, you can begin to implement a trauma-informed approach to your branding strategy. Here are a few steps you can take to get started:

  1. Educate yourself and your team about trauma and its effects on individuals and communities. This can include learning about the different types of trauma, how trauma is experienced and processed, and how trauma can impact behavior and decision-making.
  2. Identify your audience and their potential traumatic experiences. Go beyond age, gender, cultural background, and social and economic status, and dig deep into psychographics. Ask people good questions, gather insights, and see your audience through an archetypal lens to understand what will resonate with them the most. Not sure how to do this? I can help.
  3. Assess the potential impact of your branding efforts on your target audience. Consider whether your messaging or imagery could trigger negative memories or emotions for individuals with trauma histories.
  4. Develop your brand kit with a trauma-informed lens. When it comes to visual identity, this means being mindful of the images, graphics, colors and fonts you choose to create that emotional connection. When it comes to messaging, it means being aware of the words you use and the tone of your communication. Again, I can help.
  5. Train your team on trauma-informed principles and guidelines. Ensure that everyone who works on your brand and marketing efforts understands the importance of trauma-informed practices and knows how to implement them.
  6. Implement your trauma-informed brand strategy across all touchpoints of your business, including marketing, customer service, onboarding, and product development.
  7. Ask for feedback from your community to see how your efforts affect client satisfaction and loyalty. If something isn’t working as well as you’d hoped, don’t be afraid to make adjustments and try new things. It’s about finding what works best for your brand and audience.

It’s important to note that developing a trauma-informed brand strategy is ongoing and may require regular review and adjustment as your business and target audience evolve.

Shay Bocks Brand Strategist

Brand Strategist