Anna Liotta gave us a glimpse of her expertise in “Generational Codes.” It was obvious from the amount of information she conveyed in a limited time that the years she had devoted to studying and interpreting this phenomenon had not been in vain.
A wake-up call
The trouble is, she made me rethink Brand in terms of how the collection of cohorts now co-existing on this planet each think feel and believe about the most important element in marketing products, services, concepts and even individuals.
There is sufficient difference in how each of the groups she cites think and behave to suggest that they may deal with a complex notion like brand in distinctive ways. That is why I purchased her book, Unlocking Generational Codes this morning.
The generations in her terms:
- Traditionalists, born from 1927 to 1945
- Baby Boomers, born 1946 to 1964
- Xers, born 1965 to 1977
- Millenials (Gen Y), born 1978 to 1999
- Globals (Gen Z) born 2000 to 2016
What makes them tick and what ticks them off (as she puts it)
Her analysis of how the generations differ, their codes, is broken down in these elements:
- Communication–the preferred style of communicating and interacting.
- Orientation—the way they view themselves in relation to other generations, people and the world.
- Discipline—how they interact with authoritarian figures
- Environment—the behavior they exhibit dealing with the environment including how they gather information, make decisions and relate to the world.
- Success—how they measure it. What drives them and gives meaning to their lives?
Comparison to a Millenial Daughter
Because she was born on the cusp between generation X and the Millenials my daughter displays attributes of each but generally falls into the Millenial category. Like an Xer she is very much an individual but she exhibits the Millenial trait of taking things to extremes becoming an Ironman, participating in ultra-running and swimming across Chesapeake Bay when there were small craft warnings.
When it comes to technology she can squeeze more out of a cell phone than I can comprehend. She would rather text than talk if it is a matter of data or a photo. The internet is, for her, a playground. But she doesn’t own a TV.
Her relationships stay strong regardless of distance due to the acceptance of digital connections. That crosses over to the business possibilities for her. She has gravitated to seats of power and because of acquaintances made in those positions enjoys entrée to extremely senior level options in both industry and government. She sees herself as both a nomad (Generation X) and a hero (Millenial).
The Deloitte Research presents another picture
The opening statement is:
Millenials are the most diverse cohort in US history
Black, Latino and Asian ethnic groups make up 44% or the Millenial cohort. In the Baby boomer generation just 25% was non-white. The research shows that a more complete view of the dynamic consumer includes these factors:
- The cost of education eats into discretionary funds.
- People are getting married later or never
- Home ownership is no longer a part of the American dream
- There is a deepening divide between the top 20% of wage earners and the rest of the population
- Millenials, overall are financially worse off than previous cohorts with a 34% decrease in their net worth since 1996.
- Additional spending on experience-based categories is driven more by income than by age
The impact on Personal Brand
If you are in the top 20% of income (across all cohorts) you already have a brand. Your position in an organization, the reason you met someone, and where you made an acquaintance all contribute to their perception of you. Can you significantly add nuance to that perception? Of course. And if you are conversant with social media and offer a consistent image across the platforms you select you can easily build on what began on a positive note. Interestingly, you can limit your exposure on social media without adverse effect on your brand.
Not on top the income pyramid? You still need to be consistent across the social media spectrum. And, because you may have fewer first-hand meetings that build relationships with influencers you will have to strive to become known to them. How? Take the time to learn who they are and then follow them. Comment at some point and if they engage let them see the “real you.” Never pass up a chance to begin a conversation. And never overlook a direct or indirect request for more information that will put you in front of their “tribe.”
Personal brand is built one connection at a time. One gem of a connection plus another and another until you have a string of them…like a string of pearls.
And so it goes.
Jerry Fletcher is a sought-after International Speaker, a beBee ambassador, founder and Grand Poobah of www.BrandBrainTrust.com
His consulting practice, founded in 1990, is known for Trust-based Brand development, Positioning and business development for independent professionals on and off-line.