How Brands Become 'Girl Approved'

Money can't buy you love with millennial girls. In fact, scoring brand equity with Gen Y is getting a whole lot harder

Bad news. Money, power, and size no longer matter—at least, if you are a brand trying to score with a hot young thing.

We girls were just checking out BusinessWeek's list of the best global brands, and we wondered what rock those who made the selections have been living under. Then we realized that, as millennials, we may inhabit the same planet as older folks, but our perspective is a world away.

You see, if you want traction with the millennial girl market, the most important thing to realize is that we girls have got options.

Options Galore

Think of every modern girl as the most popular girl in high school. There is absolutely nothing desperate about her. Quite the opposite. Today, girls don't have to settle for anything. After all, we've got countless products, services, and entertainment options lining up on our doorstep (or at least on our laptop).

In the past, girls were held hostage to just a few channels, having the same messages pounded into their memories. But not today. If we're not excited by a Web site, TV show, or commercial, then (click), we're out of there. Why compromise when a million other fish in the sea are competing for our attention?

Historically, girls also had to be content with what we could find at the local retailer. That isn't the case any more. If we don't like what we see at the local store, we can just go online and do a bit of global shopping. In the worldwide mall, boundless prospects are lining up for easy compare and contrast. And that mall is open 24 hours a day.

Vetting Contenders

As far as getting stuck in a bad relationship, we have tricks to avoid that. Today, we don't have to waste time with liars, cheats, and brands that treat us badly. Before we say yes to a first date, we pop online, ask around, and get the scoop. Modern girls have a rich network of spies to tell us who you really are…or aren't.

Some brands assume Mom determines our choices. But these days, mother doesn't always know best. Who Mom fell for, and what was attractive to her, often doesn't relate to our desires. Our sense of self is different from hers. She didn't have the options, opportunities, and support we do. And besides, our mothers are very busy, and it is typically us hooking them up with what to buy.

At this point you may be thinking "chicks are so fickle, there is no way to make them happy." You would be wrong.

Preferring Commitment

Girls love, respect, and yearn for strong brands. To us, branding is more important than ever. With innumerable options, finding what we need can be exhausting and overwhelming. In the product-dating game, being committed to the one you love is far more enjoyable than constantly being on the prowl.

So how does a brand build equity today, given that money, power, and size don't matter to modern girls? You may be surprised to learn that what we dream about isn't radical at all. What turns us on is strong design founded on solid values and a hearty work ethic. Here is our list of what brands should consider, if they want to be "girl approved."

Good Looking

"Girl approved" brands take their appearance seriously. Girls are suckers for good looks and capable of falling in love in an instant. A sexy, unique visual identity turns any brand into a chick magnet. Good design also teaches us about your values. A brand that puts the extra effort into its visual design is a brand that says, "I respect my customers enough to invest in the details."

Products That Keep Giving

From love at first sight to just hanging out, a "girl approved" product is always a joy to be with. When a product considers every dimension of our relationship—from hello to everyday existence—it treads on the path to eternal devotion.

Clear and Fearless Purpose

There is no greater turn-on than a true leader, be it a guy or a brand. To be "girl approved" is to know who you are, why you are in business, and what makes you special. When a brand confidently stands up for its values, it inspires us. Direction and clarity also makes it feel trustworthy.

The Ability to Evolve

Technological advances are changing everything. A "girl approved" brand is capable of adapting to these changes or, even better, leveraging them. We aren't talking about superficial changes so you look hip (a trick far too many brands try). We mean understanding the more profound shifts in lifestyle and self-definition taking place, and embracing them so you remain relevant.

Is our wish list too much to ask? We think not. In many ways, it's almost retro: a return to the principles on which many great American businesses were founded.

Check out the accompanying slideshow for our scorecard of some of the brands on the list we love and cherish—and those at risk of becoming irrelevant.

This piece was authored by the girls of 3iying, including Katlyn Graci (age 20), Chi Nguyen (age 17) and company founder, Heidi Dangelmaier.

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