Building and marketing a strong brand is a moving target. There is no single recipe for success, no silver bullet. As people, technologies, and culture continuously change, so does what’s on trend. It’s this fluidity that opens opportunities for emerging brands and puts constant pressures on established businesses to never stop evolving.
David Duncan of MINI describes this well in his piece on redefining a brand. In order to avoid “getting stuck in the time warp”, he notes the constant need for marketers and business leaders to never stop experiencing their own brands through eyes of their customers.
When it comes to today’s’ consumer, I find myself referring to the millennial and generation Z demographic as “Generation Instagram”. Like any previous generation, generation Instagram has a new rubric for identifying the brands that they love and the products that they buy.
Generation Instagram is a demographic of digitally native consumers, with a sensitivity and awareness to traditional marketing like no other.
Digital Marketing experts estimate that most Americans are exposed to around 4,000 to 10,000 advertisements each day. As a result of this information overload, Generation Instagram is accustomed to tuning it all out. This begs the questions, how do you reach today’s Millennials and Gen Z-ers?
In my years at Pixlee, I’ve been lucky enough to work alongside hundreds of brands whose sole objective is to connect with the next generation of shoppers. I’ve seen tactics that work and ones that haven’t. Even with all of the nuances of each product offering and industry, there are a few constants to building a brand that resonates with Generation Instagram.
Connect with something larger than just the products you sell
It no longer is enough to have the best product in your particular market. To build a strong brand for Generation Instagram, companies must connect with the underlying elements of culture and lifestyle.
Success here is not one-size fits all and it is important to connect with projects or causes that fit your brand, product, and customer. I’ve seen brands see success through their association and connection with different lifestyles, causes, or passion subjects such as music or sports.
Create ways for your community to participate in building your brand
Marketing is no longer a one-way street, where brands define their messages to their target audiences. The strongest brands today find ways for their customers to participate in the creation of the brand identity and to connect with the business in an emotional way.
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Brands must find ways to engage their community and empower them to represent and market the brands’ products to their peers. Word-of-mouth has always been one of the strongest drivers of a purchase, but with the rise of social media, the affect is ten-fold. Generation Instagram can help brands to scale their word-of-mouth marketing like never before.
Craft an authentic brand story
Generation Instagram craves authenticity and has a strong affinity for brands that prioritize storytelling in their messaging. In today’s marketing landscape, content is king and brands are required to entertain, to engage, and to stay relevant and top of mind across multiple marketing channels.
This crunch for content can be addressed by putting high-quality customer photos and videos to use to help tell an authentic brand story.
To build a brand that resonates with the elusive Generation Instagram, marketers must hone in on the story of the brand. What does the business value? Are there easy ways for consumers to interact with the business and participate in shaping its brand message? Does the brand come across as genuine and authentic?
The brands that have built a strong underlying story around “why it exists,” gives consumers a more powerful way for consumers to connect and associate with it than the brands that haven’t built out its story.
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