By Wes Bodkin • May 15 2019
Before social media, one of the most valuable promotions a brand could get was word of mouth. That is, real customers telling people they know about their favorite products, and why they like them so much. But it seems that recently, social media has now taken over this role in many ways. It’s on these social platforms that we notice what people wear, what they eat, where they go on vacation, and more.
Gen Z is especially talented at using these different preferences to curate their personal brand. They create and release content that represents them and all aspects of their personality. One of the ways they develop this brand is by associating oneself with popular corporate brands, in the hopes that an element of that tone or message is incorporated with their own.
Plenty of people on Instagram are willing to post themselves wearing the brand names they really like without being paid, it’s a natural occurrence not unlike word-of-mouth. The difference with social media is that the reach and impressions are much larger-- and the communication is instant.
While people can involve a unique blend of styles and integrate the tone of multiple brands, corporate brands are limited in some ways to their own identity. Every brand has certain connotations that people associate with them, they also have the ability to embrace or resist new connotations, and new audiences as they come and go. So what makes Gen Z want to include a brand as part of their personal image? The key is getting them to identify with the brand.
Arguably the most important aspect of identification is personalization. Gen Z in particular wants to feel as though a brand is speaking directly to them, as individuals. This makes knowing and embracing your specific audience more important than ever. Blanket strategies simply aren’t effective for a generation made up of extremely individualized young people. If you want to see more people embrace your brand, your brand needs to embrace more individuals and their unique qualities.
Values are extremely important to Gen Z as well. You need to support the causes that your target audience supports, but more importantly, make these causes and values part of your mission and brand identity. If Gen Z can help support the causes they love by also supporting a brand they like, they are much more likely to integrate it into their personal brand and even help promote it.
Building this personal connection to members of Gen Z pays off. When a celebrity is paid to post about a product, your audience understands that they are being sold to, and they lose credibility and authenticity. But people understand that young people love to share what they love, and when they share on their own terms, they don’t lose credibility. This natural awareness and acceptance is a sign of brand success that could save you millions in creative and PR and it’s all part of positioning correctly and knowing how to speak to your audience.