How to Develop a Brand that Engages with Gen Z

Businesses reach and engage with consumers with two distinct mechanisms: marketing and branding.  While the two can get intertwined and confused with one another, understanding the differences and how to implement each is important.  Marketing is the means of informing your customers of your company and its product offerings.  This can include billboards, commercials, ads on TV, etc.  Branding revolves around teaching your consumers to associate certain images, ideologies, emotions, and thoughts with your company.  What are the first things that come mind when you think of Coca-Cola, perhaps the taste slips into your thoughts but more than likely their distinctive logo, the Coca-Cola polar bear, the Santa commercials, and “better than Pepsi” cross your mind as well.  This brand value is enormous and helps Coca-Cola keep consumers captured.

In this modern world, marketing is not enough to reach out to Gen Z.  Generation Z has demonstrated an even larger fascination with brands and the stories behind companies and product than any generation before it.  Look to the wine industry, where typically consumers would read reviews of the wine, see the wine rating for quality, and focus on purchasing wine which met both price and quality factors for them.  Millennials and Generation Z ignore quality of wine and buy almost purely based on the label and the story.  In this way, the younger demographics are buying a story-piece rather than a beverage.  When they share it with friends they are tasting the emotions of the story not the complexities of the wine.

A photo posted by #RedHeadWine (@redheadwine) on Nov 26, 2016 at 8:24am PST


Overall the branding behind a company is pivotal to develop a relationship with young consumers.  Social media is one of the first routes Generation Z will use for evaluating a company, the story behind it, and also is the best means of communicating directly to them.  This means you need to dedicate time and effort to fully understanding how Generation Z uses social media.

1) Instagram

Instagram is the highlight reel of people’s lives.  This means that uniform and high-quality aesthetic is incredibly important.  When crafting an Instagram profile you need to keep in mind what your unique style is, what content your target demographic wants to see, and from there you need to be prolific.  The Fat Jew has grown a tremendous social media following off of sharing bizarre and absurd content with an emphasis on memes.  Each day he will share at least a few posts and more on his Instagram Stories.  This level of dedication to content creation keeps people involved with him and his brand and prevents him from becoming non-topical.

A photo posted by thefatjewish (@thefatjewish) on Dec 7, 2016 at 6:23pm PST


2) Snapchat

Snapchat is the movie of daily life.  Utilizing Snapchat means that you need to keep an active and engaging Snap Story.  Ideal content shows a certain lifestyle that Gen Z would admire and desire, such as opulent shopping, high adventure, meeting with interesting people, sharing quality stories and advice, etc.  This specific content needs to be as organic and aligned with your demographic as possible.  Furthermore, cross-marketing on other social media channels is almost a necessity since it is hard to discover accounts on the native Snapchat app.

3) Facebook

While Facebook is dying out with Generation Z, it is still one of the backbones of all of social media.  As many young people say, if they cannot find you on Facebook they do not trust you.  Your brand is only as real and identifiable as its Facebook presence.  This means you need to have a clean Facebook presence that is updated with all of your milestones, announcements, and achievements.  Keys to growing a solid Facebook following involve constant promotion of liking the page at all physical events, inviting as many people to like the page as possible, running Facebook ad campaigns, and keeping a stream of engaging content running.

4) YouTube

People who watch YouTube love YouTube and treat it as a replacement for television in most cases.  This translates to a YouTube channel needing to be treated similar to a television show in terms of repeated content, regular posting, high quality filming and editing, and engagement with a specific niche.  For the typical brand, a YouTube channel does not make a ton of sense, but a well-founded video can lead to enormous traction and conversion.  Dollar Shave Club and Robinhood both employed interesting videos in their advertising campaigns and such content while hosted on YouTube and shared on other platforms overall led to tremendous results.

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