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What Gen Z Branding should actually look like

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Marketing to Gen Z is a whole new ballgame. Growing up in an internet-dominated world, Gen Zs have become increasingly difficult to impress due to their keen perception of sales techniques. Considering that they are the first generation of truly digital natives, it should come as no surprise that they are discerning and crave authenticity. This demands an accompanying shift in the way branding and marketing are done.

Embracing change without forsaking the past

After 14 years, just in time for the brand’s 125th anniversary, a revamp to the iconic Pepsi logo has been unveiled. This strategic rebranding comes after consumer research revealed a stronger recall of the 1990s logo. Embracing the challenge, PepsiCo aimed to incorporate elements from its past while looking to the future and taking a decisive stance to cater to health-conscious Gen Zs.

Driven by valuable insights, the brand reintegrated the word ‘Pepsi’ within the globe to retain familiarity and recognition. The logo’s pulsating effect also serves as a reminder of Pepsi’s long-standing connection with music. To infuse a contemporary edge, PepsiCo updated their colour palette to introduce electric blue and black, highlighting their prominent zero sugar line — a key element of the brand’s growth plan.

Gen Z Branding: PepsiCo's logo change over the years
Gen Z Branding: PepsiCo's new logo on their packaging to highlight their zero sugar offerings

PepsiCo’s Logo Change and New Packaging
Source: CNN and Campaign Asia

“PepsiCo is continuing to evolve our beverage portfolio to offer products that contain fewer added sugars. The colour black in this new design represents Pepsi Zero Sugar – a big bet for the brand as we look at our next chapter. And with the recent unveil of a reformulation of Pepsi Zero Sugar in the U.S., there is no better time for a new look and feel of our trademark brand, poised for the future.”

A well-designed logo is more than just a symbol; it articulates, visually, a brand’s identity and values. PepsiCo has achieved the impressive feat of paying homage to the brand’s rich heritage whilst giving it a modern touch. This strategic rebranding was done with a clear objective in mind; to respond to the growing emphasis consumers place on health and well-being. PepsiCo’s updated branding, along with the reformulation of their zero sugar offering, ensures consistency and leaves a lasting impression on all consumers, particularly Gen Zs, across all touchpoints.

Branding is not just about a logo. Branding is what permeates every aspect of a brand identity. It seeps into every interaction. In this sense, marketing campaigns become a powerful platform to demonstrate a brand’s character, revealing how it carries itself.

Redefining love

In a generation where relationships begin with the simple swipe of a finger, Tinder captures the essence of Gen Z’s dating scene with their first global campaign: “It Starts with A Swipe”. Predominantly known as a platform associated with one night stands, Tinder is determined to dispel this limited viewpoint. Drawing inspiration from Gen Z’s distinct perception of themself and their unique approach to dating, Tinder tosses out traditional views to embrace new slang and unconventional experiences. 

“Defined as a one night stand ten years ago, only 25% of young daters believe a hookup is defined in the same way today”

The campaign celebrates the vibrancy, beauty and diversity that Tinder offers users of all genders, cultures and orientations in an electrified dating journey. From modern-day “hookups” to traditional relationship milestones such as leaving a toothbrush at a partner’s place, Tinder communicates the infinite possibilities and connections people can make on their platform.  

While garnering praise, some users are also not fully receptive to unconventional experiences. Opposing views are not necessarily a bad thing; discussions sparked can shed light on the diverse perspectives and varying degrees of acceptance people have surrounding modern dating. It is impossible to please everyone. Know who your target audience is and serve them well.

Gen Z Branding: Comments under Tinder's Youtube advertisements for their 'It Starts with A Swipe' campaign

Screengrabs from Tinder’s Youtube

Beyond commercials, Out-of-Home (OOH) placements also featured modern couples. Relatable phrases such as “comfortable silences” and “realising you’re not dead inside” were integrated with pop aesthetics and chromatic combinations to capture the depth and intensity of relationships. Future iterations of the campaign feature other relationship dynamics such as being ‘pawrents’ or having compatible astrology signs. 

Tinder’s OOH adverts
Source: Tinder via Mischief

As a testament to their dedication to diversity, Tinder’s campaign features a prominent representation of female, BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ individuals, as well as members of the trans and non-binary community, to recognise and celebrate all forms of love. It does not stop there. Tinder’s commitment to inclusion extends beyond the screen as they collaborated with co-owned teams to create captivating digital video spots. This is what sets Tinder apart; their campaign is a true reflection of the vibrant and inclusive dating world they strive to create, from A to Z.

Gen Z’s call for change: Are you ready to answer?

Brands should not ignore the power and influence that Gen Zs hold. Do not be so quick to dismiss new ideas; step outside of the comfort zone, welcome new perspectives and embrace unfamiliar experiences.

To truly appeal to Gen Zs, brands across various industries must boldly embrace authenticity as their guiding principle. Be transparent about your brands’ practices and values, yes, even its shortcomings. Empty rhetoric is not enough. Walk the talk and demonstrate your commitment to social and environmental causes through tangible actions.

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