Video via Tedx Talks. All rights reserved.

A brief but inspiring talk given by CJ yeh, a graphic designer and educator. In first half of the talk, he talks about how he changes his mindset and responds to millennials as a professor in education area; then he argues that how understanding millennials changes his approaches of design and shares strategies for business branding – flexibility in brand identity.

I would like to build more on the “flexibility” and talk about why it is important. Now we do live in an new media dominated age and society. People can talk and express themselves as easy as possible. They gain experience through expression, and they are empowered by new media such as social media platforms to express whether or not the experience meet their expectation. The more good experience people have, the more possibilities brands may have to engage with them. It is especially true for millennials, who are natives in this new media age and extremely value brand experience.

So, how flexibility works in providing experience with millennials? It involves personalization, partnership, and co-creation. Living in a age where they speak their minds freely, individuality matters to millennials. Instead of being given something monotonous, they are much more in favor of customization and personalization. This is the most straightforward way they express who they are, differentiate themselves from others, and gain personal experience. More importantly, not just unilateral customers, millennials feel happier if they could be treated like partners and co-creators. It is the matter of the sense of belonging and community. Once given the chance to participate and create, millennials are willing to take those opportunities to engage as partners and co-creators, as ways to show their personal identity.

In the talk, CJ Yeh uses logo design as an example, which reminds me of Airbnb’s logo customization campaign in 2014. “It’s a symbol anyone can create…Most brands would send you a cease-and-desist letter if you tried to re-create their brand,” Airbnb CEO Chesky says. “We wanted to do the opposite.” “The most revolutionary thing about this brand evolution is we are giving it away to the community,”  Chip Conley, Airbnb’s head of hospitality and strategy, further explains. “We are moving from an era of mass production to more individualized production.” This is very much on “flexibility,” on personalization, partnership, and co-creation, aiming to build a sense of belonging and community. And it shows how this brand is innovative and different from those traditional companies.

I like the term “experiential society” that CJ Yeh uses. Millennials are constantly experiencing products or services with their sensibility, sensitivity, and expectations. They express their needs, loves, hates and aspirations. And it is critical for brands to reflect on those experiences.


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