At the FORGE Women's Conference in Los Angeles, on a panel discussion about creative entrepreneurship, I was asked about how the brand values of my company fit within our business strategy and positioning as an emerging brand in the marketplace.
It was a striking moment for me in that discussion when I realized that my immediate reaction and response was not just reflective of my company's values alone, but rather a reflection on my point of view as a millennial entrepreneur and the clear generational shift on how brand ethics are perceived to begin with.
My response seemed natural enough to me: Brand ethics are not primarily intended as a strategy, they are reflective of who I am as a young business owner. I believe this perspective is incorporated intrinsically in the collective conscience of millennial entrepreneurs and consumers alike.
As millennial consumers, we've grown up with and around an oversaturated market, endless and aggressive advertising campaigns and social media marketing as a standard channel of communication between brands and buyers.
Our eyes glaze over any ad campaign that isn't particularly compelling, innovative or appears to be self-serving. We're over that mass market message and instead are looking for brands we personally identify with. Millennials are all about niche brands, small startups and companies that we relate to. We want to support brands we like and we like the brands that align with and reflect our values.
The unique capacity afforded to us by Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and the like is that consumers can become intimately connected with their favorite brands and can participate in the evolution of a brand in a very real and dynamic way.
The millennial entrepreneur, on the flipside, already has this millennial consumer brain and naturally incorporates this perspective when we venture out to develop our own startups and small businesses. Intrinsically, we don't want to spam you with ads, we want to relate to you, the consumer, show you who we are, what we believe in, and become a part of your experience.
Since we've participated in the evolution of social media, we naturally understand that when we're building a brand, we're building a community. Communities are not about products. Communities are about values, and millennial entrepreneurs are empowered by technology to use our products as a vehicle to communicate our values and express ourselves.
That's not to say that we are devoid of capitalist pursuits, but rather we hope that financial gains and success are achieved as a result of authentic self-expression, not a strategic initiative. Millennial entrepreneurs don't just want to start businesses, they also want to start movements, raise awareness and express their personalities at the same time.