Over the past few months, we have seen an increase in the number clients requesting our help in building a strong, clear and authentic brand narrative. Not only are they seeking to gain investors’ trust but also to create motivation and conviction among their own workforce.

When we think about a brand, we are considering the entire customer experience; from the logo and graphic elements to the website and social media, from the way we answer the phone to the way employees act, relate, feel about their organisation. It can be a bit overwhelming to think about all these aspects when building or rethinking a brand. Not to mention the countless varied perspectives that different audience types have about what makes a great brand. What I, as a Gen X working mum living in suburban London look for in a brand is likely very different from my millennial bachelor colleague. Or is it?

Over the summer we ran a short survey across the White Marble team, our family and friends to get some more insight into what we identify as the key features of our preferred brands.

We asked 28 people, men and women, equally split between Generation X (over 41 and below 60), and younger and older millennials (in their twenties and thirties) which features they consider most relevant to building a great brand, across any industry. What we have found out is rather interesting, but I would say not surprising.

For our Generation X colleagues, the most valued attribute for a brand is the quality of the customer experience and the ease of access and purchase. Half of the respondents chose well established brands that provide a vast array of products and services for multiple needs. This is not surprising given that most of the respondents have a family and a full-time job, hence speed and minimum effort was a clear priority.

Familiarity and consistency combined with the ability to reinvent itself through time without losing authenticity were identified as important attributes, especially for those who voted for brands (and products) they have been using almost all their life. Sustainability was not a top of mind concern in this group.

Almost all respondents in this group chose established, international brands. Only one person mentioned a UK smaller enterprise that promotes local small businesses.

Contrast this with the results from our millennial colleagues and friends where an almost universal requirement was the need for products to be sustainable, durable and of high quality, as well as being on trend and fun! Most of the chosen brands had strong sustainable connotations that form an essential part of the brand itself, how it operates, communicates to its customers, and manufactures its products. Sustainability is regarded by this group as not only the way the products are produced (use of eco-friendly materials, supply-chain, code of conducts), but how it more broadly encompasses the brand’s CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) efforts (philanthropic initiatives, support for the local communities, commitment to workforce welfare).

It is worth noting that equally important to the sustainability of the brand is the need for high-quality and durable products, for which our millennials are happy to spend more, if necessary.

However, within the group there were some noticeable differences. Our more mature millennials seemed more oriented towards smaller, niche companies, specialised in a limited high-quality offering and targeting a very specific audience type with customised content, campaigns, initiatives. The words “clean and simple” were mentioned often not only for the products themselves but also for the brands’ look and feel and how they communicate with their customers.

A small percentage chose more mainstream enterprises, but the core attributes remain the same as above. The vast majority of the selected brands have a strong commitment to increasing the wellbeing of local communities and/or to continuously innovate in order to reduce their impact on the environment.

Among our younger millennials, efficient loyalty schemes and good value for money were mentioned often. We also noticed that this group prefers mainstream international brands vs smaller scale companies and is attracted by the brand appeal.

Across the board it was clear from the details in the respondents’ answers that the brand has to mirror their values, passions, hobbies. For example, one company was equally “loved” (yes, this is what they wrote!) by our Gen X, younger and older millennials. It was universally highlighted for its innovative approach, seamless customer experience and sincere care for its people, and for possessing an emotional ability to create a sense of community of like-minded individuals with the same dreams and aspirations (the so called “human touch”). We leave you to guess which brand it is…

Clearly our little survey is not indicative of the full population. However, what stands out for me is the priority given by younger generations to a brand’s purpose beyond making profits. Instead, priorities focus on a commitment to authentic values, an ability to actively engage consumers and employees, while bringing them along on the journey to creating a more sustainable world….but without missing out on style and glamour!