Authentic, Creative Brand Development: What to Learn from Gen Zs


Developing a strong brand is crucial to the success of any business. It helps set your business apart from competitors while creating an easily recognizable and well-established identity in your industry. But even though basic brand development is vital, it’s not enough to get the attention of your prospects. To stand out and get engagement, you need to focus on creative brand development. And that’s where Gen Z has proven to shine!

Gen Zs are quickly entering the workforce, yielding serious purchasing power and cultural capital. On average, Gen Zs spend at least 8 hours online daily. As a result, they’ve truly mastered the art of social media and the internet. They are the creators behind most, if not all, trending videos, conversations, and hashtags. So, it makes sense that they have a knack for creative brand development.

As a business owner, you should consider taking a page from Gen Z’s book, especially if your potential customers are from the same generation.

What Gen Zs Value When It Comes to Brands

Before learning how Gen Z is changing the online landscape, it’s crucial first to learn what they look for in brands. That way, you can understand where their approach to creative brand development stems from. Generation Z, which comprises individuals born between 1996 and 2010, is all about three things: authenticity, fun, and quality

1) Authenticity

For Gen Zs, brand authenticity is key. According to research, 82% of Gen Zs trust a business more if it uses real images in ads. Similarly, 72% of this generation will likely buy from brands that contribute to social causes, such as racial equity and climate change. It’s clear that Gen Zs value brands that are inclusive and diverse have a strong online community, and are true to themselves.

2) Fun

Generation Z is much more casual and laid-back than millennials and previous generations. They can easily come up with quirky videos and hashtags that trend for weeks on social media yet still relay relevant marketing messages for brands. This is why many Gen Zs are in charge of marketing and advertising in large corporations. They have a knack for creative brand development. And since they can turn even the most serious conversations into something entertaining and easy to digest, they also expect brands to do the same.

3) Quality

When it comes to product quality, Gen Zs don’t compromise. They expect brands to sell high-quality items as advertised on social media. They’re also likely to purchase from companies with exceptional customer service.

Gen Zs are pretty different from previous generations. They have different priorities in life and shop and consume differently. For example, a whopping 74% of Gen Z adults choose mobile first when shopping—more than any other age group. They value brands with social values and a sense of community and only shop from companies that uphold these values. Brands must adapt and learn these priorities to assimilate. That’s why Gen Zs are often tasked with achieving authentic, creative brand development. 

How They Approach Creative Brand Development

As mentioned earlier, Gen Zs are actively changing the marketing game as they enter the modern workforce. This is because their approach to creative brand development is entertaining, fun, short, relatable, and authentic. Gen Z is the most social and tech-savvy generation, which is evident in their online content.

Their familiarity with technology and social, in particular, influences their attitudes toward brands, shopping experiences, and advertising. Their massive presence on social media platforms such as TikTok, Instagram, and YouTube significantly shapes buying behaviors and consumer patterns. They’re creative and bold and some of the creators behind many trends on Instagram Reels and TikToks.

A good example is Zaria Parvez, the Global Social Media Manager for Duolingo. Parvez is the creator behind Duo, a famous cheeky, oversized owl who does fun challenges and videos on TikTok. To date, Duolingo’s TikTok account has more than 7.5 million followers. Parvez’s efforts earned the company the title of Ad Age Creativity Awards SocialMarketer of the Year for 2022. Plus, Parvez herself has earned a reputation as a branding legend!

This example shows how much influence Gen Z has in today’s marketing and advertising landscape. They understand what people in their generation value when it comes to and can tap into this to increase a brand’s awareness and engagement. Ultimately, when Gen Zs are the ones buying a product or service, they can hold influence over it. So, it makes sense that they would be the ones in charge of brand development when they can speak to their peers better. 

5 Tips for Creative Brand Development from Gen Zs

If you want your brand to stick around, it’s worth it to learn from Gen Zs. Understanding what this generation does differently can help you build a stronger online presence. Here are 5 creative brand development tips you can borrow…

1) Develop Meaningful Partnerships with Influencers and Other Creators

If you want to stand out and stay ahead of your competitors, develop meaningful partnerships with social media influencers and creators. Online creators have loyal and established followers you can turn into new customers. Since they’re already familiar with their audience, they can help you develop engaging content that resonates with your potential customers. 

Although collaborating with influencers isn’t a new tactic, Gen Zs have taken it to a whole new level. By taking a page from their book, you can reap a ton of benefits from influencer marketing!

Gen Zs have mastered the art of making trendy videos and hashtags and using them to grow their online following and relevance. Businesses can do the same to establish brand credibility, increase awareness, and showcase their fun side. Just be sure to act on trends when relevant and appropriate and tie in your brand’s value and marketing message to increase effectiveness.

3) Repurpose User-Generated Content

When users create content about your brand, repurposing it shows you appreciate their participation while extending your content’s reach and visibility. Simply post pictures of consumers using your products/services on your social media pages or highlight their testimonials on your website. Doing this can showcase the quality of your offerings. 

Note: Always ask your users for permission to use their content.

4) Establish a Solid Brand Voice

To connect with your target audience, establish a clear and solid brand voice. And make sure it’s consistent across the board. This is key to creative brand development, as it allows people to get a better understanding of your business’s personality. So, decide what you want to say and how you want to say it. 

Keep in mind that your voice should also reflect the values you stand for. Ideally, those should be the same ones your audience holds, such as inclusivity, diversity, social consciousness, and so on. To appeal to today’s buyers, you need to be vocal about your values. 

5) Be Real and Authentic

Holland of Viral Solutions filming a laidback, authentic video via smartphone, demonstrating creative brand development.

Gen Z wants to see authentic brands and the real faces behind the brand. So, show the people who make your business what it is. Don’t be afraid to be “real” and apologize after missteps, either. Additionally, build an online community that facilitates connection and starts conversations. If there’s one thing to learn from Gen Z, it’s that connection is everything. 

Bottom Line

Taking lessons from Gen Z on creative brand development is a great way to reach younger generations and improve your online presence. After all, Gen Z’s size alone plays a heavy influence on buyer decisions. The best way to understand that is to hire Gen Zs and apply their practices to your own marketing. If you’re struggling to navigate this new landscape, reach out for a free consult today. Let’s talk about how we can take your brand in the right direction.


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Filed Under: Business Tips

About Lauren Zylyk

During her time working for Walt Disney World, Lauren quickly grew a social media presence on platforms, mainly through Instagram. With a Bachelor of Business Administration in Marketing paired with her passion for marketing, Lauren grew her audience even more by creating a blog and through use of other social media platforms. She loves the impact that social media has and how quickly it can get information around worldwide.
When she is not busy keeping up with the latest trends online, she can be found baking cookies in the kitchen, watching hockey, or at the gym. She loves hot yoga and trying out any new dessert recipe. She can’t cook, but she can sure bake!