Branding for GenZers.

Building small businesses is the key to the future of Dubai, which Forbes ranked in the world’s top 10 most influential cities. With thousand of new trade licence being issued annually, Dubai continues providing tailored ecosystem for starting a new business.

However, being a start-up still posses number of challenges, ranging from competing with established corporates, attracting investors, watching out for the peers in the market and meeting demands of a new young audience. With 34% of UAE market being under 24 years old, it is essential to realise that all we know about Millennials is no longer enough. Generation Z, those born after 1995, expected to be the largest group of consumers by 2020, and portray new set of characteristics and demands, which is currently being observed and analysed by marketing experts today. Young consumer group includes characteristics such as saving money rather than spending, shopping online, caring for the environment, making decisions based on recommendations of friends and reviews online, and seeing adverts as a thing of a past.

Additionally, new generation is poised to become the most entrepreneurial generation ever, with 17 percent planning to start a business someday compared to 11 percent of Millennials, which will only increase competition in the market, saturated with fresh and innovative ideas. Accustomed to smart technology, efficient and independent they are already creating brands of tomorrow, with young entrepreneurs starting their business in their teens today.

Gen Z is a generous and brand-conscious community; to attract their attention and to survive in the modern dynamic market, start up & SMEs companies in UAE will need to invest in the brand building activities to create unique seamless customer experiences. Only those with the most agile brand are predicted to survive the severe upcoming competition.

Looking into the key obstacle, start-ups are usually limited on their financial resources. Investing in campaigns can be very costly for small businesses. New consumer is no longer looking for a direct sale, they require creative, honest and engaging way of communicating with a brand. Gen Z don’t want to see another campaign with ‘YOLO’ or ‘swag’. They’re looking for something that’s a lot more authentic and inspiring. Which is another reason, where strong branding can help to differentiate and build organic growth by connecting with consumers through word of mouth in a small Dubai community, where networking and referrals are reported to be the key source of generating new business enquiries.

It all begins with branding. That doesn’t just mean ‘having a logo’. Brand is the way business outwardly presents itself. It’s how it speaks; what it stands for; what it values. And for Gen Z, these particular attributes are very important.

For branding on budget, there are many ways where entrepreneurs can save money, while building a strong brand. One of the key elements is to determine the cause behind what company does, the key element moving forward for any entrepreneur. Every start-up and SME should tell their authentic story. It is the time for brands to embrace the softer side and move away from institutional identities in favour of more personable characteristics customers can relate to. It is more than just company’s history; it is the motivation behind the idea, getting to the heart of why and what business does. With the proliferation of online media, today’s consumers are looking to connect with their favourite brands on a far more intimate level than before and they respond to honesty and transparency, not formality and distance.

Another great way of organically drive attention to the brand is having a cause behind the business idea. Being born hearing about animal extinction and global warming, Gen Z more than anyone will care about the planet and social responsibility. “I think our generation is really socially conscious, environmentally friendly and they are really global thinkers,” says Linda Manziaris, the 14-year-old social entrepreneur and founder of Body Bijou and this year’s Young Entrepreneur of the Year at the Startup Canada Awards. According to Cassandra report, nearly half of teenagers in the UK and the US want to volunteer, 32% have already donated money and just over one in 10 want to start a charity.

Gen Z really cares about the health of their community and the entire planet, and they will connect with brands that speak their language. One of the best examples is TOMS, a for-profit company founded in 2006 by Blake Mycoskie, who is the trailblazer of the One-for-One movement where someone in need benefits directly from every purchase. TOMS started selling shoes to help children in Argentina; after an article in the Los Angeles Times, orders soon outstripped supply. Its tremendous success only proves the importance of building brand story and a genuine reason behind it, which will not only connect with audience but also motivate and drive through taught life and daily challenges of every entrepreneur.

However, not everything is possible to establish in house. Growing number of branding agencies shows that entrepreneurs, who intend to build a long lasting brand, consult with branding experts in the region that help build brand strategy, establish consistent look across all channels, online and offline, develop tone of voice for the brand and advice the next steps. Hence, when selecting an agency, it is important to find the one that understands the needs of start-ups and SMEs and truly recognizes the challenges specific to the business set up and entrepreneur’s passion behind the new brand.

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