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How to Understand And Connect With GenZers Through Design?

NOVEMBER 03, 2018.

Other than making your brand look pretty, designs and graphics serve another, more important purpose: they allow your audience to connect with you. Why is this connection important? Because without it, there is no way your audience will give any of their precious attention (or money), especially if they are from the Gen Z cohort.

It is estimated that by 2020 40% of all consumers will be GenZers . This means that you need to start coming up with strategies that will work to woo the Gen Z crowd and you need to do it yesterday to still stay ahead of the game.

Characteristics of Gen Z

Although there’s no definite, universally accepted age range for Gen Z, most studies note that it starts somewhere in the mid-1990’s to early 2000’s. There are many characteristics that make GenZers stand apart from their older siblings; learning about these characteristics will help you figure out how to modify your designs for them.

They Are Not Millennials, But They are Influenced By Them

Many brands think that Gen Z is simply an extension of millennials. While there are some similarities between the two cohorts, GenZers are still in a league of their own; they didn’t have the rose-tinted views of the adult world that the millennials were misled into believing, they have seen the consequences of recession and live the horrors of extreme violence. This generation stands with their peers and against injustice, regardless of whether or not they’re facing it personally.

All this, however, comes to them through the influence of their millennial parents and siblings. Millennials have had to struggle their way through their adult life because of their previous generations and they tried their hardest to make sure that the future generations would not have to go through that. They fought for their rights and taught GenZers to use their voice, made sure that Gen Z knew exactly what the real world was like, and preached tolerance and acceptance. GenZers also look up to millennials for their courage, learn from their struggles, and take notes on how to survive adulthood.

They’re the True Digital Natives

Millennials were here for the technological, they’ve seen technology go from landlines and brick-sized phones to tablets and Wi-Fi. But GenZers are born into the digital world, they’ve had all the knowledge, entertainment, and news they want at the tip of their fingers since they’ve been toddlers. To them, social media platforms are not something you spend a few hours on and go on with your life, social media is an integral part of their lives; they use it to connect with the world, find out new things, share their lives, and voice out their opinions.

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They’re Not Tolerant, They’re Accepting

Millennials were a tolerant generation, probably the most tolerant. GenZers, however, are not. They don’t tolerate injustice, inequality, and exclusivity. They are, however, more accepting of other aspects like the LGBT community, women’s rights, different races, and other minorities. Along with this intolerance towards injustice and acceptance towards formerly “taboo” topics, they also know that they have a voice and know exactly how to use that to elicit action. A major example that perfectly illustrates this is the student-led March For Our Lives movement where students, teens, survivors of school shootings came together to ask for answers after consistent inaction from authorities.

They Know What They Want

You may think that, because GenZers are just teenagers or too young, they might lack direction, because that’s what the millennial teens were like; but that’s not true. You see, millennials were raised by baby boomers, the generation that had guaranteed jobs at the bare minimum educational qualification, fully paid for houses before they married, and in general, a good life as long as they were ready to work hard. This is what they taught their millennial kids: stay in school, get good grades, get a good job, and settle down. So millennials had an optimistic, but unrealistic, outlook on adulthood. This lead to millennials getting a major shock once they started looking for jobs because the economy had taken a massive hit during their school years; which they were not aware of.

But GenZers know better, they’ve seen their parents and older siblings struggle to make it in the real world, they’ve seen the effects of the Great Recession, they’ve lived the effects of 9/11, they stay connected to the world they will soon step foot in through social media. So they know what they’re in for, they know what they’ll have to face. They also know the consequences of not having a 5-, 10-, 20-year plan ready. This is why GenZers have a fixed plan for where they want their career to go and start preparing for it even before they’re out of school.

How to Design for Gen Z

GenZers have a mindset that is unique to their generation. This means that the strategies you’ve been employing for so long, that worked so wonderfully for your millennial audience, will not work anymore. Here’s what will work.

1. Know Your Social Media

GenZers have many faces; they are fangirls and fanboys on Tumblr, they’re models and photographers on Instagram, they connect with their friends and family on Facebook and with celebrities on Twitter. The design styles they like on each of these platforms will vary as well; on Instagram, they’re all about aesthetics while on Tumblr and Twitter they promote artists (and memes, but mostly artists). Know all about each of these faces and figure out which one(s) you want to cater to.

2. Acknowledge Their Diversity

Gen Z is comprised of 47% ethnic minorities making them the most culturally diverse generation so far. To add to that, they are extremely protective of their peers and don’t think twice before standing up for them in times of crisis or injustice and work endlessly, ceaselessly to break all unfair barriers. Basically, they are a just a big, proud melting pot of culture, races, sexualities, and genders. Culture is not the only aspect where GenZers are diverse; even their hobbies and passions have the same level of diversity. The idiom “jack of all trades, master of none” is the best way to describe this generation of innovators, leaders, artists, academics, protectors, and entrepreneurs. It is vital that your designs show and, more importantly, celebrate this diversity.

3. Give Them the Control

GenZers are living in a world where a lot of things are happening that are simply out of their control; nothing is guaranteed, the economy is unstable, and mental stress is at an all time high. In such a scenario, these young, stressed out folks are looking for any sliver of control, and vehemently favor anybody that gives it to them, even if it’s in the form of a simple graphic or the design of a website. They prefer ad campaigns that let them co-create or control the narration or story, These people also like brands that let them vote for something to happen or choose an option on their own. That is why YouTube videos where YouTubers “let their fans run their life (mostly through Instagram Stories)” do so well. So, make sure you create designs that allow them to customize their experiences.

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4. Build a Cohesive But Dynamic Identity

Just as this generation diverse, their identity is dynamic; you will try and fail at finding one single picture that completely encompasses Gen Z. To match this, brands need to be consistent but flexible with their identity and voice. Try to have a fixed palette, logo design, typography, and feel to your designs, occasionally changing up the theme according to seasons, festivals, and trends. Like, for Christmas, you can have a snowy, Christmassy theme with Christmas-related decorations adorning your designs and graphics. This way, you can refresh your brand from time to time without your designs going stale or completely rebranding yourself.

5. Consider Functionality Along With Aesthetics

GenZers live a fast-paced life and need brands that will make this life of theirs easier, which means that they’re looking for convenience and efficiency. If they don’t see these two things in your brand, they will drop you and be very reluctant to pick you back up. This community of youngsters needs websites that work just as seamlessly on their smartphone as they do on desktops (it’s a bonus if you have a well-made app) and graphics that they can view regardless of what device they’re using, all packaged up in an aesthetically pleasing designs.

6. Use Designs to Showcase Your Values

Gen Z is big on values; if your values resonate with their beliefs, they’ll lend you their support without any hesitation. But don’t flaunt values that you don’t believe in just to get them to like you. If they find out — which they will, because they always do — that’s a quick one-way ticket to Banland in the GenZers Handbook for Brands.

7. Empower Them With Your Designs

Another thing GenZers are ‘big on’ is empowerment; from LGBT to Feminism to Gun Control, this entrepreneurial cohort passionately empower anything they deem worthy and deserving. If your designs promote personal growth and Gen Z’s capacity to shape their present and future, it will resonate with them, which will result in them sharing your creations and, eventually, follow you. They are also big fans of pushing boundaries and destroying barriers. This rings good news for you because you can experiment as much as possible; use bold colors, switch to pastel palettes, try different fonts, explore new facets of graphics. With Gen Z, you have a scope to exploit areas that were too risky for millennials and Gen X.

8. Serve Them Bite-sized Information

GenZers need designs that they can share with their social circle, graphics that they’ll want to share. These digital natives are used to flitting between multiple screens and have an incredibly small attention span thanks to that. They have the amazing ‘talent’ to read a book while catching up on their favorite TV shows and listening to the music by their cherished artists all at the same time and are quick to drop brands that can’t keep up with their pace.

But an upside to this short attention span is that they are quick to decide if they like a brand (or post) or not. The trick here is to capture their attention within these few seconds. The easiest way to do that is to engage with them in their language; use short videos, simple graphics, and minimal text.


To gain support from GenZers, you need to be original, authentic, and innovative rather than being the loudest. They’re allured by empowering designs that showcase the values that they stand for and work well on any device they use. Understand all the aspects of this unique generation, incorporate them into your designs, and you will quickly establish an intense connection with them.

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