Generation Z Shows Its True Color. It’s Yellow.

By BNC Marketing

Let the visuals do the talking

The color yellow signals calm, bright and sunny. It also brings to mind springtime daffodils, unisex baby clothes, school buses, and golden corn. Paint brand Benjamin Moore describes yellow as “ranging from soft pastels to muted golds, lending an air of warmth or optimism to any room.”

Most recently yellow has been coined “Gen Z yellow” the color of this open-minded, outspoken, responsible, and uplifting generation. While some trends come and go, design experts see this as one that is wide-sweeping and powerfully aligned with Generation Z, the age group born 1996 or later.

Yellow links to the mood of the generation.

Barnes & Noble College Insights Conversations with Gen Z highlights how strongly Gen Zers see themselves as change agents working towards a better future for all generations. WWD’s Lily Templeton makes the connection between this demographic and color, stating that yellow is “associated with optimism, vitality and ambition, the historically rare color could be read as a metaphor for a generation eager to surpass the troubles of the epoch.” Further,’s Hillit Wahlberg wrote that “Gen Z Yellow is this generation’s uncompromising demand for inclusiveness – and bright, positive, attention-demanding-yellow is their brand.”

What’s a marketer to do with all this yellow talk?

Consumer Behavior theory stresses the importance of visual cues to attract attention and influence response to products and communications. Color can be used in both subtle and overt ways to impact mood, retention, and overall feelings about our brands. Yellow inherently has so many positive attributes, that we as marketers should jump at the chance to transfer even a few of those over to our brands. Here’s how you can incorporate Gen Z yellow into your brand marketing efforts.

If you’re yellow, flaunt it.

Some products are a natural. Chiquita does a superb job projecting yellow into everything surrounding its inherently yellow product. If you’re mustard or honey – you’ve also got this. Perhaps you’re lucky enough to have yellow brand colors. Think Cheerios, McDonald’s, Hertz, and Post-It.

Even with this strong yellow foundation – don’t stop there. Consider contemporizing your logo, visual identity elements, and/or communications showing that you truly want to engage with Gen Z. The way color is used should reflect the optimism, energy, and get-it-done attitude of this generation.

If you’re not yellow, here’s how to work it.

  • “Yellow-ize” product design and packaging in terms of flavors, external package colors, and special promotional or sample packs that are Gen Z yellow.
  • Infuse yellow into campaign themes, product names and copy. Sunny, lemon, corn-on-the-cob, summer day, golden, saffron – and so many more to consider.
  • Update your visual style guide, like we did at Barnes & Noble College. Integrate yellow via new imagery, background colors, and photo treatments.

Sometimes what is unsaid can say a whole lot. See how yellow can work for your brand as you seek to strengthen your bond with Gen Z.

Want other ideas on how to connect with today’s collegiate Gen Z? Download the FREE report.


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