The A-Z of Brand Identity for Generation Z

By Lisa Marinelli on January 13, 2017
Higher Education UI/UX Generation Z

Whether you’re a business, nonprofit organization, or higher education institution, aligning your brand with Gen Z, the newest generation of information consumers, is now critical, as they’ll be 40% of the population by 2020.

In order to make the right moves, the first step is to understand Gen Z holistically. Who is Generation Z? We’ve created an A-Z Generation Z marketing list to help you get to know how to gear your brand identity to the young digital native cohort, born from 1995 to roughly 2015.

A – Authenticity

If you want to earn trust, authenticity is crucial to Gen Z because they have grown up in a society that shaped their keen eye to disregard phonies.

B – Brand Storytelling

This generation wants to connect to you like they know you. Listing product features isn’t going to describe true benefits to Gen Z. Engage them in a story.

C – Cultural Conversations

Communicate your brand’s relevancy and positioning in today’s society. Gen Z is fond of brands that effect positive social and environmental change.

D – Diverse

Gen Z is the most diverse generation to date. Your branding must also address inclusion and your messaging must communicate that you are socially aware.

E – Entrepreneurial

Plugged into the world’s problems, this generation generates real solutions using their surrounding resources. With a DIY spirit, they value real-world, hands-on experience that prove their positive impact and success.

F – Financial Attitudes

Growing up in the Great Recession taught them how to budget their money and to think before they spend. This means they are crowdsourcing their buying decisions online to hear what others are saying before pulling out their wallets.

G – Global

Gen Z is not only talking to their close friends on social media. They connect with strangers internationally to share interests, spark new ideas and become familiar with issues affecting all of humanity and the planet.

H – Honest Feedback

Gen Z is engaging in online communities where they share stories about their brand experiences, both good and bad. Listen to what this cohort is saying to integrate their ideas into your brand messaging.

I – Influencers

This generation is looking at influencers, not celebrities, like Youtube stars or popular Instagrammers who share their favorite brands, because they are one of their own, attracted to their commonalities. Gen Z connect to these personalities and find them entertaining.

J – Judgment in curating their own brand

Personal branding is an expert skill Gen Z have perfected. Gen Z is concerned with ensuring their own unique stories are communicated across platforms.

K – Knocks – From the School of Hard Knocks

Thanks to the Great Recession, Generation Z is a cohort armed mentally and emotionally to face adversity hit after hit.

L – Loving

Altruistic and charitable, Gen Z have a huge heart for making a difference in issues like sustainability and human rights. This outlook influences their consumer decision making. To encourage Gen Z to connect with your brand, be sure it clearly reflects similar values and causes.

M – Mental Health

Invest in understanding the specific mental health needs of Gen Z. Consider how you can communicate through messaging how your brand helps relieve them of the stressors they face.

N – Native to Digital Landscape

This generation has never used an encyclopedia. The ease of using search engines is practically an innate skill. It’s crucial to keep up with how Gen Z uses each technology and social media platform as it becomes available.

O – Overlooking ads

Gen Z is most likely to skip and close anything that looks like an ad across social media. This calls for more effort into content marketing and influencer marketing, rather than annoying ads that Gen Z feels are intrusive.

P – Personas

Creating detailed personas for the Gen Z consumers to whom you are marketing will help you understand what makes them tick and what influences them to connect to your brand.

Q – Questions answered

Many brands don’t have answers that Gen Z wants to know readily available or accessible right from the source. Think like a curious Gen Z, so when they search for you a relationship to your brand may be formed.

R – Return on Investment

For college attending and non-attending Gen Z, the return on investment in different types of education is a serious consideration for their futures.

S – Selective Social Media Use

Gen Z loves connecting to their favorite brands on social media, but in a curated manner. Forbes says, “Unlike the millennial mentality of broadcasting anything and everything to these platforms, Gen Z is shifting to a mentality of sharing only specific stories to specificpeople on specific social channels. This is evident when we look at the platforms that teens are most likely to use. Rather than the “over-sharing” platform of Facebook, they use Snapchat and Instagram because they are considered more selective.”

T – Time-Crunched

With a dauntingly short attention span (famously documented as “eight seconds”), content marketing and user experience should capture Gen Z before they click away and close your brand’s message.

U – User-friendly Website

Good user experience is key. Odds are Gen Z will check out your website from a mobile device, more often than a laptop. Ensure your site’s user experience is designed to test their mind’s agility as they jump link to link.

V – Video

This goes hand in hand with brand storytelling. Video marketing is the best way to reach Gen Z to form a trustworthy relationship to your brand. This is because, done right, the medium of a one to two-minute video offers authenticity of your brand message and the promise of questions answered in a time-respecting format.

W – Wary

You must earn their trust. These young people have seen banks take their homes, foreign and native terrorists threaten our lives, and government disrupted by unexpected individuals. Think of how you can be transparent and forthright to this generation that immediately puts dishonesty and ingenuity on blast.

X – Xer Children

Largely the offspring of the “Latchkey Kids,” Generation X, who has purposefully given them more attention than they received as kids, but has raised them to be self-sufficient, self-motivated, hard-working and resilient like their own Baby Boomer parents.

Y – Y’s Proteges

Learning the best lessons from Gen Y, or Millennials: Don’t go into debt, get prepared now for the working world, and investigate the value return of any option before deciding.

Z – Zest

Zest for life, for friendships, for family, for a career that counts, for helping humanity and the Earth using their unique skills.


Now that you know your A-Z of Generation Z, put this information to work in your branding and messaging to influence this powerful group.

What’s important to your prospective customers?

Find out what your audience wants. Use our proven process in our free eBook, How to Build Marketing Personas: The Essential Marketing Tactic to Attract Your Best Audience.

About Lisa Marinelli

Lisa Marinelli is a third-year Advertising major at the University of Florida and is currently interning with the Pariseaf content marketing team. Drawn to unexplored turf, she absorbs her surroundings like a sponge. She finds the perfect background music for every moment of her day.

Previous post:

Gen Z and the Death of the Coffee-and-Donuts Internship

Next post:

Seismic Shifts in Consumer Behavior: Must-Know Branding Trends for 2017

See more from our blog