Reaching Youth – design ideas for reaching young people

By March 26, 2019 April 23rd, 2019 No Comments

Reaching Youth – design ideas for reaching young people

If your Not for Profit is trying to reach young people either to engage in programs or to be supporters of your organisation, NOW is the time to be bold, take risks and be creatively different.  Young people (15-25 particularly) are probably at the leading edge of engaging in the world through a 5.5 inch screen – this creates a challenge for communicating our purpose to gain greater engagement. In this small screen environment where our message can disappear with the swipe of a thumb we need to quickly and clearly get our point of difference across. So, how do we capture attention.

After a recent experience in gaining engagement of young people in a training program we had developed we have given some thought to what we could have done better and below are some to the design related solutions we have come up with.


  1. Bold and beautiful

Fonts need to be big and bold, well -rafted and used with confidence. If we are going to stand out and be noticed then fonts are one way we’ll achieve this.  Organisations need to use words and fonts as the focal point of our campaigns and social media posts.  Great typography will influence how we differentiate ourselves.


  1. Unique photography

Having a unique voice and being noticed will mean moving away from stock images. Capturing the scope of our programs and showing who are our participants will contribute greatly to our relevance. But this is a challenge as it can be difficult to get permission. So, we need to think about how we can use photography without identification. Perhaps we can use the image of someone’s hat, or a back of a jacket or a pair of shoes. Not all photo’s have to be of faces, social media is overflowing with individuals creating great content with an iPhone, so we can use these images.  We need to think about how we get our audience sharing our content. Young people are inundated with messages, so we need to demonstrate our difference in a way that is original and compelling. We also need to have high quality images where appropriate, so a good camera and a photographer make a world of difference.


  1. Be bright

Standing out also applies to colour choices.  Accessing a brighter colour palette where appropriate will help to stand out. Your current brand colour palette will still be central but maybe there’s scope to extend the range of colours your designers can work with.  Picking up some brighter colours could help your campaign gain some additional momentum and stand out visually. You just need to be clever with how you use it.


  1. Be touch feely

With every other point on this list around being bright, bold and daring – we have to bring it back down to earth with a bit of texture. With so much emphasis on digital and the way things look in pixels, one way to differentiate yourself is to use print and to apply textures. Think about how you might use techniques such as gold foil, embossing, metallics and recycled stock – making the material a focal point of the design. Recycled stock now comes in a variety of options from rough looking recycled paper to white stock that you cannot distinguish from any other stock. Using carefully considered print techniques create a tactile experience for your audience.



Make them part of the design process through co-creation and collaboration.

If you can access a group of young people maybe you can bring them into the conversation about how well a design works. Many organisations have clients who are happy to advocate for the organisation and see it as their way of paying back. Bringing young people into the design conversation is one way to provide this opportunity. A couple of options that you might consider are:

  1. Posting potential projects like a poster mock-ups on social media and allowing your followers to vote; or
  2. Create a competition so they can submit their own design ideas and build on their suggestions.

Don’t forget that they’re young adults.

Young people always want to be treated like adults. It’s important to make sure that your designs reinforce that they are young adults who are capable of making decisions for themselves.

It’s about inclusivity.

The world of young people is ruled by social media and many of them are focused on breaking down barriers. For this reason, many are not interested in fitting into pre-determined groups, they are fluid in their identities and align behind many different labels.

All content should be shareable, scalable, and bit sized.

With 24/7 access to information, content needs to be shareable. Social capital and self-esteem is dependent on how many followers a person has and what response their content gets.  Embrace this by designing content that is shareable.

Content also needs to work on different platforms: Instagram, websites, twitter, Facebook. Your content needs to be scalable.

Content is like a take away snack. Make sure it can be digested quickly so that your audience can grab it and run.

Social media and video rule

YouTube. Need I say more. We’re all using YouTube more and young people are no different. Content is being consumed on YouTube before it’s being watched on television.


To tap into the millennial market, video is the dominant social medium. In a 2018 survey of social media usage in the USA, the Pew Research Centre found that 94% of young people aged 18-24 used YouTube. This includes watching online video several times a day, on multiple devices.


The key to marketing your brand to the millennial demographic through video is entertainment value. Just think of the success of the ‘May ways to die’ campaign by Metro Trains.