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Updated 26 Feb 2020

Youth marketing basics: The role of design in reaching the younger consumer

Different markets need different types of communication. As designers we also need to understand this and how it affects our communication.

Kgomotso G. Mautloa, 19 June 2016  Share  0 comments  Print

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Visual communication plays a vital role when it comes spreading key messages across various mediums to a variety of people, and is a powerful thing when used in the right way. The ‘stop’ sign, for instance, is the same visual image all over the world. It never changes because it’s a visual symbol that communicates the same message, globally.


When applied in the right way, visual imagery and design is extremely effective – particularly when targeting the youth. The youth are a different type of target market. They are constantly switching between social media networks, watching different programs, and creating their own language and short codes.

When thinking about reaching that demographic, it is essential to think like them, and to be at the edge of each fad and trending topic that they are following. As much as you may keep up with those trends, you need to understand them, and find a way to integrate them effectively into communication and design. 

Most companies and brands fail to hit the mark because, in most cases, they are talking to that particular market in a way that they do not understand, thus completely missing the mark and not hitting the ROI.

Related: Free marketing for business owners

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Getting the communication right

The youth have always been receptive to different types of visual imagery, mediums and channels; and design is the starting point of essentially all means of communication – following a brief. The beginning of creating a good visual starts with the design. The form meeting its function.

It is important to ask a few key questions about the form and function:

  • What form will it take on?
  • Will it be communication in the form of a poster, flyer, website, logo, or video?
  • What is the function of this design?

All of the above should lead you to then asking: “Will the message get across clearly to the intended consumer?” This means that if social media is the form, the design of that needs to meet its function. 

Some tips for effective marketing and reaching the youth through design:

  • Creating a good marketing mix to communicate with the consumer should be your number one priority
  • Print isn’t dead. Use print media as part of the solution as it is a tangible communication medium that many of the youth still consume
  • People remember print second to cinema and TV - use this to your advantage
  • Be creative and innovative in your marketing strategies and stay consistent. The youth will remember innovative campaigns
  • Cross-channel marketing is the new word. Create strategies that will live on, or extend onto, different platforms, such as digital, print and online – which are the spaces where the youth are playing in. This will have a greater impact in reaching your target market. 

Design companies need to consistently work alongside their clients to reach their target market in an effective manner. 

Related: The marketing planning process: Marketing strategy and example guide

Agencies need to do the necessary research to find effective design methods that will work for their clients to reach their intended markets, in the hopes that the relevant market reacts in the desired manner.

There needs to be a good balance between form and function, particularly when the youth are the target market. It is essential to apply good design methods to communicate to the younger consumer in a visual language that they will understand and be receptive to.

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About the author

Kgomotso G. Mautloa

My name is Kgomotso I am the owner and creative director at Green Robot Design. I’ve been told I’m an entrepreneur which means I’m a thinker and a solutions provider. With the philosophy that we NEED form that functions; design that actually works. I pride myself on creating and adding brand value through the design ethos of THINK. PLAN. CREATE.

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