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Build a Brand That Attracts Gen Z and Millennial Customers

Erin Shea
Updated Sep 01, 2022

Check out these four tips for micro-business owners to connect with Gen Z and millennials.

  • Design a lovable logo.
  • Create a unified look and message.
  • Develop a unique point of view.
  • Tell your company’s story.

Gen Z and millennial consumers are more likely to make a purchase from a small business and spend more on small businesses than their baby boomer counterparts. Here are four tips for micro-business owners to connect with this important demographic.

Small business owners have an exciting opportunity to capitalize on growing interest from millennial and Gen Z consumers, who are predisposed to “shopping small.” In a recent survey of 1,000 U.S. consumers, Vistaprint learned that 41% of consumers ages 18 to 24 and 45% of consumers ages 25 to 34 would spend more money on a product or service if they knew it was supporting a small business. We also learned that millennials spend more than double the amount with small businesses as baby boomers.

Knowing that this demographic is eager to support the small business economy, owners should start thinking more carefully about their brand identity. Ask yourself, who will be your customer as your business grows? What does that mean from a branding and marketing perspective? For starters, a digital presence is a must: 84% of millennials said that small businesses should have a website, and 80% said small businesses should be active on social media. This is a demographic that pays attention to branding and will notice if your marketing materials aren’t cohesive or feel inauthentic.

Strong, effective branding starts with a unified look that demonstrates professionalism and brings your brand to life across every customer interaction. This extends to the visual aspects of your brand as well as your voice, sales experience and customer service. If you establish a consistent style, customers will gain a familiarity with your small business that keeps you top of mind. 

To help demonstrate the impact of effective branding, Vistaprint recently launched Micro Main Street, a pop-up retail experience that celebrates small businesses and showcases how powerful a professional look and feel can be. Vistaprint designers worked with three small businesses to help them elevate their branding and marketing materials, giving them the confidence to engage with customers at the pop-up retail event we hosted at St. Louis PrideFest.

One small business Vistaprint recently worked with for the launch of Micro Main Street is HelloPride, an LGBTQ+ inclusive baby boutique that has an unmistakable brand identity and unified look across its business. Every order it packages, marketing material it creates and pixel it publishes online glows with its brand essence, which has made buyers stop and take notice. 

Here are some tips on the best way to achieve a unified look and feel for your brand, using inspiration from our friends at HelloPride. 

The first step to creating a unified, professional look is to create a logo. Listen to your brand voice. What do you sell? What do you stand for? What feeling or message do you want people to get from your logo? A good logo is simple and visually appealing, so keep in mind that your logo doesn’t have to say everything about your business, but it should be a good start. It also needs to be flexible enough to leverage across all of your marketing. HelloPride’s brand was born out of love and a need for representation, so its logo and marketing materials needed to express that. The result was a bright, inclusive and kid-friendly logo, which is appropriate for an LGBTQ+ baby boutique.

2. Unified doesn’t mean uniform.

HelloPride doesn’t just design a logo and print it on all its marketing materials; it uses each new opportunity to express its brand in a new way. A unified look and feel means creating your own style guide to make all your materials feel cohesive, from business cards to packaging, but they should not be exact replicas of each other. Stick to the same general or complementary color palette as your logo. If you introduce new elements, make sure that they convey the same feeling as your logo so that your brand expression stays intact and customers know that everything is coming from the same business.

3. Find your voice.

Your brand’s “look and feel” is not just visual; it has a voice as well. To identify your brand voice, consider your personality as well as that of your brand, and then get a sense of your customers. Figure out who you’re selling to, what they care about and how they’d like to be spoken to. A relatable tone of voice will make your brand feel trustworthy and encourage customers to continue their relationship with you. Once you find your brand voice, make sure that it is consistent across all aspects of your business. For example, HelloPride uses a positive, empowering-yet-playful tone to bring its brand to life. From order confirmations to personalized thank-you notes, HelloPride wants its customers to feel like family, which resonates well with its customer base.

4. Tell your business’s unique story.

If your brand voice shapes how and what you say, your brand story should provide the “why.” A clear, well-articulated brand purpose connects customers to your business on an emotional level. For example, HelloPride strives to create a world where all families are empowered to celebrate their love and feel represented. This higher-level brand purpose doesn’t just give customers something to buy; it gives them something to believe in. Chances are you already know your business’s story and purpose. Look back on what motivated you to get started. Was there a problem you sought out to change?

A brand story doesn’t need to be complex or emotionally intense to resonate with your audience. A bakery’s purpose might be to make a customer’s day a little sweeter. A landscaper’s purpose might be to help neighborhoods bloom. What matters is that you tell it in a way that’s unique to you. This now becomes an authentic part of your branding, one that is crucial to convey to your customers who you are and what you stand for. 

Branding a business to attract millennials and Gen Z customers comes down to selling a feeling, a personality, a vibe or even a lifestyle. To truly connect with these potential customers, your brand’s story must enable a larger connection for continued experiences beyond a single transaction. This tactic is intended for selling beyond the now. Showcasing your brand can meet needs beyond the immediate sale. When you have achieved the right branding, you can establish a relationship with your customer that lasts well into the future.

Bottom line

It’s more important than ever for small businesses to build a brand that stands out to millennial and Gen Z consumers. These generations are open to taking a chance on small businesses, but it’s up to you to make sure your brand quickly and effectively communicates who you are and why they should learn more about you. This is something that small business owners must make a priority to acquire new customers and get to the next level of growth.   

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Erin Shea
Erin Shea is the Marketing Director, North America for Vistaprint, the leading online provider of marketing products and services to small businesses. Prior to that, she served as the Senior Manager for Customer Strategy, and Senior CRM Specialist. Erin never stops thinking of ways to help small businesses make the best first impression possible and pursue any opportunity with confidence.