The generation of the ‘new-hippie’ is upon us, more socially connected than previous generations, they have had the benefit of growing up with communications technology, social media, and the internet.
The new generation (Generation Z) are socially conscious, aware, cynical and seeking to ‘be the change’ – making a difference and connecting with brands that align with their beliefs. But why is this important, and how are brands connecting with this demographic?
Socially conscious and connected.
This generation, more than any previous, can connect with people and brands across the globe. This has given them the ability to find and follow causes that resonate with their ideologies and beliefs. They possess the ability to share and discuss within communities, spreading the word of brands that they feel close to. Being able to tap into these communities is allowing brands to market themselves more organically with word of mouth.
A concerted effort to put social issues at the forefront of brand ethos is fast becoming essential, the voice and tone the brand employs, is crucial.
A great reference of a brand putting social issues at the forefront of their branding is chewing gum brand, Nuud.
The eco-conscious chewing gum brand is shaking up the chewing gum market by creating a gum that uses naturally sourced ingredients, not only is their gum tasty to chew but also friendly to the environment.
They have seen that there is a need for this market to change its ways and follow their initiative with the majority of chewing gum manufacturers utilising recipes that use single-use plastics.
The message the brand employs on its packaging, ‘chew plants not plastic’, is direct – and a little cheeky – and wouldn’t look out of place on a placard.
The fun aesthetic and tone of voice of the brand, means that the serious issue it is aiming to tackle is put across in a light-hearted and playful manner.
Short attention spans.
Studies have shown that millennials have incredibly short attention spans and the necessity to grab, and capture this demographics’ attention, is paramount.
User attention spans are typically thought to be around 8 secs, so what does this mean for brands?
To capture the attention of this demographic, brands are employing tactics such as using oversaturated colours in bright contrast, paired with clear and concise communications. Using pop art style illustrations and eye-catching typographic treatments also serve to pull focus.
New neo-bank, Ekko, have applied these visual tactics to their brand’s visual language, to great effect.
They have set themselves apart from the market by focusing on this ‘new hippie’ generation. Pushing away from the minimalist trend that can be seen employed in the aesthetics of other neo-banks, they have taken a more maximalist approach.
It seems as though their focus has been on making sure that their brand engages with a maximum visual impact, and a no-holds-barred approach to colour palettes and messaging. The brand’s name has been derived from the word echo, a graphic treatment of their typography reflecting this has been applied to the brand collateral – even on the bank card itself!
The approach Ekko has adopted is commanding your attention, which in turn enables them to express the very important issues about change that the business is founded upon.
The ‘new-hippie’ generation are much more visually connected, opting to use devices as time-sinks, filling the gaps in their day.
The requirement for a visually engaging aesthetic is more necessary than ever with overexposure of brands through multiple marketing channels.
Brands constantly fighting for visual importance, means that to stand out they need to set themselves apart and not add to the noise in the oversaturated markets. One of the biggest ongoing trends, which are still being adopted today by brands, is minimalism.
It seems only right for there to be a reaction to this, and this ‘new-hippie’ aesthetic is a warranted visual change of pace. Picking up influences from pop art and visual cues from hand-rendered typography that can be found on posters from by-gone eras. The vivacious use of illustration, typography and colour undoubtedly give a sense of positivity and optimism.
We can see this enthusiastic carefree approach in the branding of trail snack company, Byte.
The brands bold use of colours and typography feels reminiscent of lava lamps. Their logo itself wouldn’t look out of place in the ’70s, with its pop-art styled candy-coloured lips, which feel familiar and welcoming, paired with the edgy use of typography.
The vast palette of colours used within the brand feels vivid and bold, which is a far cry from the muted colours popularised by the minimalist trend.
The brand is unquestionably different and is in complete contrast with other granola-based snacks available in its marketplace. The brand is an example of an extreme change in the market – the product is ethically sourced, and in direct competition with other brands aligning with the movement – to stand out, Byte has truly embraced the maximalist solution.
All of the brands we have looked at within this article are disruptive within their markets, and are all pushing the boundaries – creating brands that are edgy, vibrant and most importantly, socially responsible.
Making sure brands keep in focus their main demographics is imperative, and with the millennials and generation z making up so much of the current workforce, it’s a massive audience to overlook.
Brands that underestimate the power of the ‘new-hippie’ generation will risk becoming the dinosaurs of their industry – so embrace change, be brand-brave and think about what your business can do for this planet that we ‘all’ live on.