Connecting to Gen Z Through Design

Shaped by the environment, world events, social dynamics and technology, each generation is unique in its own right. Lately, there has been a lot of focus around one generation in particular: Gen Z. Why do we care so much about this one group?

Gen Z is a powerhouse that is about to take over. Not only do they make up about 30 percent of the world’s population, but they also make up 40 percent of U.S. consumers. As marketers, we know the future of businesses depends on this generation, yet according to Review42, 69 percent of Gen Z find ads disruptive. So how do you reach these young people through design? How do you connect to them in a meaningful way and build a relationship with your brand?

Marketers don’t have to learn all their slang, wear the early 90’s fashion or understand their unique humor. But we need to understand the power of design and how it is a universal language that can bridge the gap between brands and their audiences. Below are three ways your brand can reach Gen Z through design.

Visual and interface design are one in the same

Gen Z is truly “digitally native.” They are the first generation to have technology as a prominent part of their lives since birth. Viewing technology more as a necessity than a novelty, they know how to navigate content and have no patience for dated websites and interfaces. They expect your designs to meet their digital savviness and provide a clear, cohesive brand experience. Because of this, it is no surprise this generation gravitates toward modern, simple designs with clean lines, which are very similar to digital interfaces.

Gen Z is over photoshopped models

Gen Z is the most racially diverse generation and they want to see real, authentic people in the ads around them. They’re tired of seeing unrealistic images of modern society—Gen Z pushes for more honesty and transparency. Their online power turned the blemish market on its head when they started the #freethepimple campaign and changed Clearasil’s Instagram feed from showcasing clear skin to the ugly reality of acne. Dove created the #showus campaign that was a direct result of this push for truth within advertising. Gen Z wants the ads they see every day to match the diverse reality they live in.

Color is important

Every year Pantone releases a color that leads the palette trends across all industries from fashion to interior design. This year Pantone released two: bright yellow and grey. These colors are also some of the hues that are most associated with Gen Z. This is not an accident. The bright yellow represents the need to be seen, recognized and have our voices heard, which directly aligns with the values of this unique generation. Although brighter, contrasting colors lead the Gen Z color palette, neutral colors like grey align with the older side of Gen Z, who tend to follow millennial color trends. Connecting with people through color is so effective that even Kanye West incorporated a bright orange into his fashion collection to attract the younger generation.

For more insights and design inspiration check out these articles:

Review42: Gen Z Statistics – What We Know About the New Generation

Bloomberg: Generation Z, You’re Adorkable

Pantone: Announcing the Pantone Color of the Year 2021

Column Five Media: 6 Ways to use good design to connect with Gen Z