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Zoomers and Boomers: Why Gen Z is Changing the Landscape for Brands

Generation Z; Overly-sensitive, vegan, social media obsessed and misunderstood. While Gen Z seems to have many (less than favourable) labels, are they really that different from the generations of youth before them? It’s nothing new for youth culture to influence trends and crazes, but Gen Z seems poised to shake up the system in-terms of, well, everything.  The question is no longer “how can my brand target my customers” but “how can my brand remain relevant in a market where consumers are unafraid to hold brands accountable?” 

Who are the Generation Z?   

Generation Z is self-proclaimed as perhaps the most misunderstood generation of all-time. Born during the mid 90’s and through to the mid to late 2000’s, the Gen Z cohort suffers from an unfortunately fuzzy delineation between generations. Most Zoomers have never known a world without the internet, mobile phones, and social media. While Millennials may roll their eyes at the younger generation feeling misunderstood, it’s impossible (and quite frankly reckless) to overlook how growing up with constant technological, societal, and political developments has moulded Gen Z as individuals and future consumers. 

Innovation, Innovation, Innovation 

Growing up with the internet for the entirety of their lives has meant Gen Z has experienced a non-stop barrage of technological innovation. This has provided them with access to more choices than ever before. As a result, Generation Z is more likely to spend money on brands that are innovative. Innovation remains a cornerstone in their purchasing desires whether it be technological, or design based. Brands who wish to successfully capitalise on the Gen Z market need to be prepared to push for innovation.

Convenience Culture 

A decrease in “from scratch” goods coupled with a prevalence of convenience product use by their Gen X parents is likely to heavily influence the purchase decisions of most Gen Zers. Fuelled undoubtedly by past generations and encouraged through social media, Gen Z feels an amplified pressure to achieve success at an early age, generating an increased appeal for convenience. They have grown to rely on convenience not only in terms of use, but in terms of delivery, attributes and even product messaging. 

Hidden Fears of Financial Insecurity 

Brand sensitive but not brand loyal, Gen Zers are likely to be somewhat conservative in where and what they decide to spend their money on. This is a consequence of growing up in uncertain financial times and witnessing the crippling debt of their Millennial predecessors. While some Gen Zers may respond with cautious investing and saving, others may choose to avoid arbitrary spending or unnecessary product purchases as an attempt to achieve long-term financial security. 

Enjoyment of Escapism 

Due in part to the helicopter trends of their parents, Gen Z slightly mirrors the pressures of previous generations, but with different stressors. This has led to a yearning for goods and services that cater to the idea of escapism. The allure of escapism has been facilitated and encouraged through advances in tech, which have provided 24/7 access to social media, greater mobility in devices, and video games with ever-advancing graphics and features. 

So how can you adapt your branding, messaging, and actions to assure they are meeting the needs of this influential generation as they enter and transform the buyer’s market? 

1. Widen Your Scope

Does your brand’s segmentation include Gen Z? Shifting your segmentation to include a younger audience is essential if you wish to remain relevant. Shifting to support a wider audience is not only beneficial for attracting Zoomers, but for entering newer and often more niche markets. Start by identifying brand elements that could be utilised to refresh your brand identity and messaging.

2. Be Picky

Small changes can be made by focusing on key brand assets and exploring ways to modernise them. Subtly elevating your brand to make it more contemporary will help your brand appeal to a younger audience without alienating your established base. Think edgy accent colours and font modifications. Brands may also want to reevaluate how their product stands out against others on the shelves. A packaging agency is a fantastic resource when it comes to modifying subtle design assets and elements of product packaging. 

3. Collaborate Consciously

For many brands, a complete rebrand is often too expensive. Collaborations are cost-effective and calculated actions that can often be more beneficial than a total redesign. Choosing to collaborate with brands and influencers that appeal to potential customers outside your normal target audience can have transformative effects. It is vital that collaborations be deliberate and conscious, with partners that share common values as well as aspirational ones.

4. Be Bold and Authentic

Gen Z is unapologetic about the values and ethics they expect from brands. It is essential that you communicate your brand’s values in a way that exemplifies them. Gen Z is very aware when brands use trends and other methods as marketing ploys, and they aren’t afraid to call out brands for bad behaviour. It’s vital that your brand expresses what is important to them, but it’s even more crucial that you mean it. 

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Branding and Culture

What is brand purpose?

Product, Price, Place, and Promotion. While the 4 P’s of marketing have remained a cornerstone of marketing theory, a 5th P has been making a strong case for its inclusion. Purpose (brand purpose) has become an essential ingredient for solidifying brand identity, building customer loyalty and nurturing positive brand associations.  It might be time to ask yourself; Does my brand have a purpose? 

So, what exactly is brand purpose?

Brand Purpose is far more than a company’s ultimate goal, it’s an aspirational and idealistic view of what you want to become, the “why” of your brand’s existence. A brand purpose may not entirely make or break a brand, but it will fortify the other brand elements together, forging a stronger and more conducive brand identity. 

Why do brands need purpose?

Today’s consumers are demanding more from their brands than ever before. Patrons are becoming increasingly more educated and informed about the choices they make when it comes to purchase decisions. While a USP and mission are important aspects when cultivating a brand, they are no longer sufficient in retaining or building customer loyalty and repeat purchase behaviour. 

Customers want to connect with brands on a deeper level. Companies and organisations which have purpose go beyond the scope of their products or services, allowing consumers to support them in similar aspirations and goals. A 2019 Porter Novelli/Cone study revealed that 89% of participants had positive connotations with brands that displayed purpose. Additionally, 86% were more trustworthy of brands with 83% more likely to be loyal to purpose-driven brands. 

Start Finding your Purpose 

Former CMO of P&G Jim Stengel, identified and broke down fields of 5 human values into categories that can easily be translated into brand purpose. Although every brand may not fit squarely within one of the 5 categories, it is an ideal starting point for discovering a purpose in line with your brand identity. 

  1. Impacting Society
  2. Evoking Pride
  3. Inspiring Exploration
  4. Enabling Connections 
  5. Eliciting Happiness or Joy

Aligning your brand’s purpose with one of these human value ideals provides deeper connections with your demographic that span far beyond the products and services you offer. 

Communicating brand purpose 

Authentic purpose-driven brands are more successful, but how do you effectively communicate purpose without losing authenticity? 

Be transparent with your customers

Transparency is vital when it comes to promoting authenticity. Be transparent with your actions and how they reflect your brand’s purpose. For example, if your purpose is to work towards a more inclusive society, be sure to encourage and highlight diversity in your hiring practices, communicate in an inclusive manner and be mindful of how your marketing material can include (or potentially exclude) various demographics. 

Collaborate with care 

Be sure that you chose to partner with sponsors, influencers and other brands that share similar values. It’s important that your purpose and values be consistent across all channels, this includes the voices you select to represent and promote your brand. If your purpose is to provide healthy and affordable meals for children, partnering with a junk food label would be seen as contradictory to your purpose. 

Remember who you are 

Authenticity can be built through sharing honest, meaningful, and sometimes personal stories. Remember why your brand has its purpose and share those reasons with your audience. When customers have a better understanding of why and how the brand’s purpose came to be, it provides a deeper layer to your purpose, boosting authenticity and nurturing brand loyalty.  

Can a brand find purpose later in life? 

Finding a purpose is relatively simple in the early stages of brand conceptualisation, but what if your brand is already well-established? It’s highly likely that as a well-established brand, there will already be a clear-cut vision and mission, but can that be translated into a purpose? 

Perhaps the most efficient and effective method to identify a brand purpose in an already flourishing brand is with a complete brand audit. During this process you can review past marketing strategies, positioning statements and other useful data regarding the brand’s success over the years. Through reviewing past actions and decisions, you can discover a purpose that aligns with your brand and activities. 

A brand audit is a comprehensive project that requires time, research, and a fair amount of analysis. If you are looking to complete a brand audit to discover a purpose, it may be a good idea to enlist the expertise of a packaging design agency. Relevant expertise can be incredibly valuable, especially when looking to “find a purpose” after years of operation.     

Whether your brand is wildly successful or still in its early days, it’s time to have a good hard look at “why” your brand is and what it aspires to be.

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Branding and Culture

Brick by Brick: Constructing the Foundation of a Successful Brand

Brand- A combination of attributes that gives a company, organisation, product, service concept or even an individual, a distinctive identity and value relative to its competitors, its advocates, its stakeholders, and its customers. 

While the definition may vary depending on who you are asking, all brands come down to reliable foundations. So what makes up a brand’s foundation, and how can a solid foundation lead to a successful brand?  We’ve broken down the elements of the Aaker brand vision model to identify the building blocks of successful brand foundations and why they are crucial to every brand’s future success. 

Brand Elements 

Brand Vision Elements (Brand Elements for short) are vital components that help define and orient a brand. Each brand is different, but a company’s core brand elements may include things like their logo, company name or slogan. Successful brands will identify several core and extended vision elements. Although they may vary slightly, both core and extended brand elements are important for cultivating brand personality. Identifying these vital elements early in the branding journey will serve as a guideline, keeping activity aligned and ‘on-brand’ during the various stages of brand growth.  

Specificity

Just like individuals, no two brands should be identical. Recognising the values and traits that are unique to you and your brand fosters authenticity and distinctiveness. Precise details help craft an interactive and authentic brand personality, allowing your brand to respond effectively and accordingly to any development.  

How is your offer different from your competitors? If your brand was a person, what would they be interested in? How would your brand interact with customers and potential clients? How would your brand feel about a given situation? Why? Don’t be afraid to get specific! 

Brand Association

Brand Association is a pillar in brand evolution, but what exactly is it? Simply put, brand association can be anything that the customer has in their mind about your brand.  Understanding positive and negative associations with your brand provides an opportunity to branch out into other markets. Brand Association also provides a set of remembered qualities which are communicated to customers, a real win when it comes to brand loyalty!  Equally, Brand Associations give customers a reason to purchase, providing yet another basis for moves into newer and more lucrative markets. 

Brand Essence 

Brand Essence represents the central theme of your brand vision, acting as a sort of umbrella covering aspirational goals, USP and internal and external values. 

Brand Essence helps drive internal communication and can serve as inspiration for employees or as a guide for future programs. While a brand’s essence is something that should constantly be sought after, it is in fact an optional building block. In certain instances, a brand’s essence may draw attention away from core elements, potentially diminishing a brand’s external personality. 

In these instances, it’s better to highlight core elements rather than forcing a contrariant essence. If you’re still a bit confused about whether your brand’s essence meshes well with your brand vision elements, it might be the right time to reach out to a brand strategist.

Communication 

Communication is key. While this building block may seem obvious, it’s important for brands to be versatile enough to excel in a variety of different contexts. For example, brand positioning in a magazine will differ from that of a social media platform. 

Employing a brand in various contexts and situations can highlight the multitude of elements (and hard work) encompassed within a brand’s vision. While positioning might change based on the product-market context, a strong and versatile communication strategy allows for a brand position to evolve without ever losing sight of its core elements and associations. 

Tried & Tested Crew

While it might be true you can technically lay the foundation for your own home, some things are best left to the professionals. Just as it’s essential to have a strong and reliable foundation for a building, it’s essential that your brand be built on a solid and consistent foundation.  A brand strategist can be an incredibly beneficial addition to your team, working with you to identify each of these essential building blocks for your brand, raising important questions and making suggestions based off market and insider research. Working with your brand strategist can also be a vital resource when it comes to branching into new and unknown markets. Even well-established brands can benefit from a second opinion from a packaging agency when it comes to effectively capitalising their brand. 

Whether your brand is in its infancy or well-established, a solid foundation is essential for long-term brand success. The building blocks outlined in Aaker’s brand identity model lay the blueprint for a robust and reliable foundation, ready for the construction of a consistent, distinguishable, and valuable brand.