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Brand Marketing

A Gen Z’s Perspective on What Makes for an Authentic Brand

A Gen Zs Perspective on What Makes for an Authentic Brand

My name is Devon Smith; I’m a 14-year-old freshman in high school and am an active Instagram-er and snapchat-er.  As such, I have noticed a few things about brands on the platform.  One of the things that I’ve noticed is that there are some brands on Instagram that appear authentic and engaging, and some that don’t. The ones that are authentic are true to their core, speak with a human voice, and are artsy or adventurous.  

I had a one-day internship at Pixlee –yes, they exist– and researched brands which I have never been exposed to before.  My job was to rate them on how I thought they presented themselves on Instagram. 

I analyzed the below companies Instagram presence and recorded what I observed.

Companies researched: One Piece, Coffee in the Shower, Faherty Brand, Greats, Alpha Industries, Elton Shirts, Rails, DL1961 Denim, Show Me your Mumu, and J Shoes.

The brands on this short list that I felt presented themselves the best on Instagram, reflected in the number of likes and commented they accrued, had several things in common. 


  1. 1) They have engaged followers

  2. These brands are thoughtful in their posting. One such brand is One Piece, which really resonated with me and, not surprisingly, its follower base. The brand averaged  90 comments on the last 9 posts.  Coffee in the Shower, another brand that I’d never heard of, uses a silly sense of humor targetting Millennials. Although the brand does not share many pictures or videos of its products, it displays its creative. This is smart because then people follow them for humor and also get exposed to the clothing.
  3. 2) They have an artsy and adventurous vibe

  4. Some of the brands, like Faherty, focus not only on its products (e.g., quality clothes, colorful sweaters targeted to an upper teen market who like to believe they are outdoorsy people but actually live in cold cities) but also on the brand lifestyle. The brand posts amazing pictures of outdoor landscapes. 
  5. 3) They speak with a human voice

  6. These brands understand who their followers are and know how to speak to their followers. They are the ones that make their customers feel included, and have personal relationships with them, not just business relationships. Brands such as Great, are lacking in this regard. The brand doesn’t come across as very authentic to me. Rather, they seem to be more focused on selling.  

From the perspective of a 14-year-old Gen Zer looking to help brands improve their social media presence and resonate with my generation, I would suggest trying to get your followers more involved in the brand by opening a direct conversation with them, taking a fun or artsy approach to your content, or focusing on what is core to your brand and making sure that you’re sharing it.  Companies that integrate their fans into their social media and cultivate a personal (rather than a business) relationship are more likely to resonate. 


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