Gen Z doesn’t love labels—but does that mean that they want all of their products to go logo-free? YPulse’s brand tracker shows that recent attempts to relate to young consumers by ditching iconic logos are falling flat…
We’ve said for some time that today’s young consumers are genreless generations—more resistant than ever to being labelled or falling into pre-existing buckets, and preferring to blur the lines in everything from music to gender. They’re also notoriously ad-averse, adept at ignoring any marketing they deem unworthy of their attention. But these qualities don’t necessarily mean that going logo-free will be an instant-appeal to Gen Z and Millennial shoppers. Recently several major brands have launched unbranded product lines with the aim of appealing to Gen Z, but YPulse’s youth brand tracker shows that they might be missing the mark.
In late August, Doritos temporarily ditched its logo in a marketing campaign the brand titled “Another Level,” which was targeting ad-averse young consumers. The digital overhaul renamed their site from Doritos.com to LogoGoesHere.com—and opened a corresponding Twitter account—and ads relied on the iconic orange triangle for brand recognition in place of any logo or brand name drop. The snack brand’s 60-second spot, aptly titled “Anti-Ad :60,” summed up the campaign’s strategy: “For a chip so iconic, we don’t need to name it cause this is an ad with no logos, no jingles, no gimmicks, just those red and blue bags with the stuff you love in it.” The Drum reported that #LogoGoesHere was a direct effort to appeal to ad-hating Gen Z, and that it was the largest digital investment to date for a brand equity campaign for Doritos.
However, when we look at the YPulse youth brand tracker, which interviews 81,000 13-39-year-olds to assess their affinity to over 400 brands, it looks like the campaign fell a bit flat. The brand’s Yscore (a composite of their Influence, Momentum, Personality, and Relevance scores) over time actually shows that 13-36-year-old’s view of the brand took a dip after the campaign launched:
In particular, the brand’s Relevance metrics dropped in September, after #LogoGoesHere launched, showing that young consumers weren’t as likely to see it as a popular brand, supporting diversity, and expressing who they are:
There are other hints that the campaign wasn’t a major hit. On Instagram, #LogoGoesHere has 847 posts (many of them from media covering the launch of the campaign). This isn’t to say that Gen Z and Millennials are rejecting Doritos—it’s one of their favorite food brands, and many of their scores have already started to rebound. But they clearly weren’t that into the logo-free campaign, and it’s not the only example of a logo-removal that didn’t fair well.
Diet Coke also shed labels this summer to take a stand on stereotypes around race, gender, and sexuality. As part of their “[Unlabeled]” campaign, the slim Diet Coke can got the ultimate minimalist makeover that left nothing but the brand’s iconic vertical red stripe. The cans were available at select events, including several Pride celebrations. Those logo-free cans were introduced at the end of June, and we saw a similar dip in brand affinity for Coca-Cola in our brand tracker in the weeks following, with Personality, Relevance, Influence, and Momentum scores all dropping.
While Doritos and Coca-Cola had very different reasoning behind their logo-drop, both ended up turning off young consumers slightly. So what went awry? Well, for one thing, just losing a logo isn’t necessarily enough to send the message to Gen Z that your brand aligns with their values. Young consumers expect significant action if a brand is supporting a cause, not just symbolic. At the same time, we have seen that Gen Z actually has affinity to brand logos: 79% of 13-17-year-olds have purchased something that prominently displays a brand logo, according to our Brandoms report. They don’t hate logos, and they’re even more open to wearing them than Millennials, with Gen Z more likely to agree with the statement “logos are back in style.”
Our research also shows that the majority of both Gen Z and Millennials feel that a brand’s logo is a reflection of their personality. So no logo is potentially just stripping that brand personality away. One of Dorito’s messages was that their bags, cheesy dust, and flavor are so iconic that they don’t need a logo to promote them, but to young consumers, that logo is a part of their memories of the brand, and their experiences with it.
Luckily, both campaigns were just temporary stunts—just three weeks ago, Dorito’s posted a video of a tee-shirt featuring their loud logo once more. While marketing media was intrigued by the logo-free stunts that took place this summer, we’d say it’s safe to hold on to those logos and show Gen Z you care another way.