Be Beyoncé, Not Bono: How to Connect with Millennials


Clients often ask us something along the lines of “how can my brand appeal to Millennials?” To address this question, we bring young consumers in at the beginning of our creative process and involve them throughout the cycle of a project. Using the voice of the target consumer (in this case, the often-discussed but ever-elusive Millennials) we craft brand stories and creative deliverables (what we call ‘artifacts’) to help bring the brand to life for a company in a way that resonates with the target.

Our clients are not alone in wondering how to attract this group of consumers. A recent NPR story addressed just this topic. The story highlights the four key requirements successful brands such as Warby Parker ask of their products and services in order to ensure a successful brand fit with Millennials…to paraphrase, they are as follows:

1. Is authentic and genuine
2. Has a compelling story
3. Is unexpected and interesting
4. Does good in the world

These are all aspects that come up in our consumer research with Millennials time and again. Whether it is an article of clothing or a dining experience, Millennials tell us they look for brands that feel real, unique, and have a compelling story or ‘reason to believe’ behind them. Millennials are looking to make a meaningful connection with the brands they choose. In other words, they want products and services that make them feel warm and fuzzy in some way. This is their interpretation of being informed and active consumers. To quote my good friend and expert on Millennials, Adam “Smiley” Poswolsky, they are a generation “shackled by debt, recession, and the jobs crisis, (but) millennials aren’t motivated by money. Rather, they’re driven to make the world more compassionate, innovative, and sustainable.” And Smiley wrote the book on the subject – literally – so he should know.

In addition to Warby Parker, the NPR story cites Beyoncé as a Millennial favorite for her altruism and ability to disrupt traditional advertising methods by releasing her most recent record without the help of any ad campaign. Of course it helps that her brand is already a global phenomenon. Last year, another famous artist’s attempt to disrupt traditional advertising methods blew up in his face. When U2’s track ‘Songs of Innocence’ was offered to the masses for free, they made the mistake of forcing everyone with an iTunes account to download it. Bono apologized after realizing that people don’t want to be forced into things.

As a Millennial from the NPR story puts it…tell me what your product is “and then leave me the heck alone.” Millennials are all about authenticity – which means a brand should figure out who it is and its reason for being, be itself (erring on the side of playing hard to get), and let the Millennials come to it. As a company, we are in the business of helping brands find their authentic voice, and helping them see how that voice can ‘talk’ to the target through creative visuals, written stories, and other means. As an (albeit aging) Millennial myself, I am proud of the work we do to speak to my generation.

Interested in co-creation with your target (Millennials or otherwise?) Want to learn more about what we do? Get in touch here.