Millennials are a peculiar bunch. To the inexperienced marketer, they might seem uninterested and unfazed by the marketing messages and methods that worked in the past couple of decades and still work for other age cohorts, but in reality, you’re just not using the right tools, format, and channels to spark their interest. For example, leading sources reporting on millennial trends concluded way back in 2015 (which may not seem like that long ago, but, in digital terms, it’s decades ago) that less than 3% of millennials rely on TV, magazines or books to help them make a purchase. Conversely, more than 60% of millennials are loyal to their favorite brands. So, as you might have guessed, your goal should be to optimize your entire online presence for building millennial loyalty.
Most importantly, though, you need to optimize and modernize your brand to improve your marketing as a whole, which is important for building millennial loyalty, as well as improving your market performance with other age cohorts, as well.
In this oversaturated online world, people aren’t going to notice a brand that sells a product or a service with a one-size-fits-all strategy – they are, however, going to notice a brand that offers a unique experience that matches their values and provides superior satisfaction. With that in mind, here is your guide on branding to gain the trust and loyalty of your millennial target demographic.
Start by building your brand’s values
To focus on building millennial loyalty, and even inspire them to become your biggest brand influencers, you first have to build your brand’s values, especially building values that resonate with millennials. The values that guide your mission, vision, and purpose need to resonate with millennial audiences, which means that your values should not bear a corporate tone. Instead, you need to put the customer first and stand up for the things they truly believe in.
For example, if the customers want your brand to use sustainable production methods, and stick with eco-friendly practices, then that’s what you need to emphasize in your branding and marketing, as well as your entire operation.
H&M has created its Conscious Collection to raise awareness on the fashion industry’s impact on the planet, and to reduce their carbon footprint, water waste, and emphasize other sustainability issues. They clearly state their goals and empower customers through every single marketing initiative to recycle their garments with the brand.
However, espousing the values of millennials doesn’t just mean that you have to use sustainable practices yourself, this means that your entire network of suppliers, manufacturers, shipping companies and partners, in general, needs to act sustainably, as well, because you can bet that diligent millennials will run a background check on your company, and uncover any ties you might have to other companies that exploit labor, animals or the environment.
Make sure to build your values by supporting concrete, relevant causes that matter to the millennial consumer. Sustainable business practices aren’t the only tool you can use. Just pay attention to values important to millennials and, if in doubt, ask them. Be sure, however, that your efforts at building millennial loyalty don’t cause conflict with other groups making up your target markets unless you feel millennials are your most important market. Or, ensure messaging reaches different target markets with messages designed explicitly for that market.
Define your brand’s unique personality
Every brand has a unique personality allowing it to stand out in the competitive world. Look, the millennial customer spends a lot of time browsing the web, and they have mastered the art of skipping ads and brushing past stories that don’t spark their interest immediately, which is why you need to make your brand as engaging as possible. While it’s true you need to create an amazing visual identity to achieve this (more on that in a bit), you also have to create a unique brand personality that appeals to your target demographic.
Millennials don’t want to interact with a boomer brand, nor are they going to feel like a part of a Gen Z brand simply because they are a unique generation of consumers who require a tailored approach. With that in mind, be sure to create a brand personality that uses a millennial’s vocabulary, supports their view of the world, and is honest and transparent. Combine brand personality with a laid-back attitude and a friendly approach, and you will appeal to the millennial consumer.
Perfect example? Starbucks! This global brand knows exactly how to interact with millennials, especially on social networks such as Instagram. They make their social presence all about the customer, inspire brand tags, call for unique experiences, and craft authentic flavors to commemorate different seasons – hence the fame their pumpkin spice latte earns every year. Find your own uniqueness and be as customer-centric as possible to attract more millennials.
Focus heavily on your visual identity
For the millennial audience, a brand’s visual identity is one of its most alluring features, and one of its biggest selling points. Visual identity is also where many business leaders make their biggest mistakes because millennials don’t just want your brand to look good, they also want you to weave a narrative into your visual identity. Your goal should be to bring form and function together and create brand visuals and visual content that will spark their interest and convey a valuable message.
This is why you need to know exactly what your visual identity needs and how you are going to create visual content that inspires and motivates the millennial to take action. Your best bet is to focus on rich, branded illustrations that tell the story without the need to saturate your website with written content. What’s more, you should focus heavily on branded infographics, images, and videos that supplement your long-form text content to engage with the millennial audience – making your brand more memorable while setting the stage for loyalty and trust.
Tailor your tone of voice to your audience
Brand tone of voice ties into your brand’s personality, but it’s so important it requires a separate mention. In a nutshell, your tone of voice needs to resonate in the hearts and minds of your demographic, and in this case, it means that you need to be a bit informal, a bit laid-back, very friendly and approachable but also professional.
That’s not an easy mix to create, but it will inspire millennials to check you out and works toward building millennial loyalty.
Remember, your tone of voice needs to be consistent if you want to inspire loyalty in your customers, which means that it needs to permeate your brand, you should use it to make your content more engaging and to enrich your website, your social media and all internal and external communication.
Although we could stick with Starbucks as an example of voice, too, let’s take a look at another brand that successfully retains a high level of interest among its loyal, global audience. While it comes in a close second, Coca Cola definitely creates some of the most memorable campaigns world-wide. On Twitter alone, this brand engages with 140,000 followers on a regular basis. They achieve such mesmerizing levels of interaction by taking a strategic approach, as they’ve given each of their drinks a dedicated page on social media, but also by continuously posting interactive content that grabs their followers’ attention. They actively converse with their followers, post fan photos, create engaging videos, and support charitable initiatives their fans love.
Finally, a millennial customer won’t move a muscle if they can’t see social proof supporting your brand. Essentially, social proof means millennials want to see other people are interacting with your company and others trust you by buying your products or signing up for your services and newsletter. Even better at building millennial loyalty is active engagement with others through liking, sharing, positive comments, ratings, recommending, etc.
With that in mind, be sure to build social proof and inspire loyalty by integrating a social proof tool into your website, leveraging user-generated content on your site and social media, and adding testimonials, reviews and product ratings to boot.
In the oversaturated online market, you can’t hope to create a brand that will appeal to everyone. You need to know your exact target demographic, and if that means that you’re after the millennial generation, then you have to optimize your brand’s identity for that audience specifically. Be sure to weave these qualities into the brand-building process to build millennial loyalty.
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