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Some of sports’ most indelible logos were designed by Ed O’Hara’s SME Branding, founded 30 years ago and acquired in 2016 by collegiate marketing giant Learfield. In that time O’Hara has seen the business evolve from being focused purely on graphic design to a more holistic branding, of which logos are just one component.
— As told to Terry Lefton

It’s a generation of impatience — on-demand everything; watch what you want, when you want — and they’re an app away from anything. The world is a much smaller place for them and they are much more accepting of diversity. They only see diversity as a problem when they walk into a room and only see one type of person. They are used to a mixed room, whether it’s by gender, race, religion or ethnicity.

When MLB talks about changing the game with a clock and other changes, they were talking directly to this generation, which has no patience for a slow, languishing game. As a result, games, in some cases, are carnivals with a lot of sideshows. But there’s no going back.

Still, because they want to be involved, cause-related marketing will work. If the team has a food drive, they will be there. Their loyalty depth when it comes to colleges is only equivalent to international soccer — it’s for life. Gen Zers want real depth of engagement with their teams; it can’t just be transactional. They prefer emotional rewards over functional benefits every time.

They are a very optimistic generation. They will act, not just on the dollar in their pocket, but for the greater good. The more brands in and around sports that understand that, the more connected to them and the more successful they will be.

Gen Zers want to be part of the decision-making process. They are the most democratic generation, and a brand can be saved or killed from one bad Twitter experience. So marketers have to be so aware of the effect social media has on their brand. But they can also be your greatest brand ambassadors.