Each generation seems to have different priorities and various brands they use most frequently. They recognize the jingle from commercials or the logo on the product. The brand names of the most iconic brands may become new words that represent items, such as Q-tips or Coke.
The current Gen Z shoppers are more internet savvy than any other generation in history. They’ve never lived without cell phones, internet or other modern conveniences. They are also one of the best educated segments, with 57% enrolled in college compared to 52% of millennials and 43% of Gen Xers.
Gen Zers are smart, savvy shoppers who put a lot of thought into the brands they’re most loyal to. They need a good reason to love companies and stick with them. Iconic brands of today are mostly shaped by millennials and Gen Zers.
What Brands Are Most Popular With Gen Z?
The most popular names among the younger generation tend to have a heavy presence on the social media platforms Gen Z frequents, such as Snapchat or TikTok. Snapchat has about 280 million daily users and is quite popular with those under 25.
Some of the iconic brands most recognized today amongst all generations include:
It probably isn’t surprising that Apple made the number one spot for iconic brands of all time. The majority of cell phone users now have a smartphone, and Apple is one of the best known names in the industry.
Those who use an iPhone scream about how much better it is than an Android, much as Mac users and Windows users disagree about which platform is best. Their simple, apple logo is instantly recognizable around the globe.
Love them or hate them, Chick-Fil-A is known for speed and excellent customer service. You’ll often hear people comment that other industries can learn a lot from the restaurant chain.
Younger people may not realize the company started in 1946 and chose to be closed on Sundays. As the chain grew, they maintained that decision and still do to this day.
The biggest reason the chain is so recognizable is due to their consistent and stellar customer experience model. If you tell an employee, “Thank you,” you can be certain they’ll say, “My pleasure.” For most workers, their attitude reflects that saying. They might come to your table and ask if you’d like a refill, for example. It is a standout in the fast food industry.
How did Google take over the online browser industry and become the powerhouse it is today? It all started with the user experience (UX) and ensuring they offered the best browser possible. The company took all the negatives of other software and improved on the concept.
Over time, they started adding other services, such as cloud-based storage, social platforms, shopping and more. As an iconic brand, Google is pretty much a verb in most people’s lives. “I’m going to Google that” is a common phrase amongst all generations.
Although Netflix is now known by other generations, it was the millennial generation who started talking about it to their parents and grandparents. The ability to stream favorite television shows and movies without commercial interruption changed the face of leisure viewing forever.
Like some of the other iconic brands in this list, verbs began to form based around the company and sayings such as “Netflix and Chill.” What many millennials may not realize is that Netflix started as a DVD rental subscription service and many of their parents already knew the name.
They were one of the first companies to embrace video streaming, eventually doing away with the mail rental program. In 2021, Netflix had around 214 million subscribers, making it one of the most-used entertainment brands in history.
Vans may have been made iconic by millennials but Gen Z continues to wear them and show how stylish the casual shoes can be. Out of the iconic brands out there, Vans is one that hasn’t really changed their product much.
Sure, the patterns change to reflect certain styles, but the shape of the shoe and number of selections remains steady year about year.
Everyone knows the name of the shipping giant, but they’ve become more popular over time as the USPS raised their rates and customer service stayed subpar. FedEx is about getting things there fast.
As far as iconic brands go, their logo is instantly recognizable and even makes one think of motion with the white letters morphing into orange.
Iconic brands often become part of the language, and Coca-Cola has done that, with people in some areas of the United States calling any type of soda a Coke. There are as many ways to order your fizzy cola today as there are people who drink it.
Coca-Cola has stayed with the times by adding options such as Freestyle where users can grab a fountain drink with the base soda of their choice and dozens of different flavor combinations such as lime, mango or cherry.
They’ve also grabbed the attention of the younger generation by adding fun social media campaigns and doing things such as putting names on bottles and challenging their customers to find unique combinations.
People likely even know the story and history of the brand. Pharmacist John Stith invented the fizzy sugar drink in 1886, adding coca leaves and cocaine along with some caffeine. To say the cola stimulated folks is an understatement. Over the years, they took out the cocaine and slowly changed the formula to the syrup it is today.
What if you could create a brand so sought after that people would pay over $40,000 for the smallest base model and add on enough items to take the cost to over $100,000? The electric cars are starting to sell faster than anyone expected.
They offer a unique model where you can build a custom model online to perfectly suit your needs. Of course, you can also go the traditional route and head to a dealer, but you’ll likely still have to wait while they build a custom car for you.
The brand is now a household name and certain to continue into the future as people look for ways to reduce energy usage and lessen their impact on the environment.
Amazon’s brand is best known for being a one-stop online shop. You can purchase anything from clothes to furniture, gadgets and more. Amazon has dominated the e-commerce market for years and has become one of today’s most iconic brands.
When people think of Amazon’s logo, they see it as a smile. Yet, you’ll also see that the arrow starts at “A” and points to “Z,” meaning customers can find everything from A to Z.
Amazon’s brand has become widely recognized because of its Prime services. The company guarantees fast deliveries. But when a customer doesn’t like the product they’ve ordered, Amazon provides seamless return processes.
That’s why Amazon is tremendous, and Jeff Bezos — the founder — is to thank for that.
Samsung’s brand isn’t what it was before as it is today. The company was founded in 1969 and struggled with a stigma surrounding its products. Many saw its electronics as cheap and mass-produced.
This became a branding problem for Samsung, especially when Sony was already excelling in the market.
However, we can’t say the same for the brand now. Today, Samsung is most known for developing cutting-edge technology and sleek designs.
In turn, the brand grew rapidly within the last decade. Now, many people buy Samsung TVs, smartphones, smartwatches and more.
Everyone knows McDonald’s for its iconic golden arches. Its brand is widely recognized by the number of customers it serves daily.
Currently, McDonald’s has 40,031 restaurants around the world, serving millions of people every day.
The American fast food chain began with its first restaurant in 1940. The founders, Richard and Maurice McDonald, were the original creators of fast food. However, Ray Kroc is the person who obtained credit for the expansion of McDonald’s — developing its brand into what you see today.
McDonald’s has a recognizable brand for the work Ray Kroc accomplished in the early years. He changed the American perception consumers had of diners. Rather than being a roadside stop for biker gangs and young people — Kroc turned these restaurants into places where families could enjoy a burger.
As a result, McDonald’s is now a global brand, making it so iconic today.
Disney’s brand has grown in popularity since Walt Disney founded it in 1923. Today, it’s known for its magical theme parks and captivating movies. Disney is one of the largest media conglomerates in the world.
Mickey Mouse is its original and most famous character that represents Disney. What started with a fictional mouse, the brand acquired more high-profile series and companies, including Marvel, Pixar and Lucas Films.
Disney is also famously known for its theme parks in Paris, Florida and California.
Because it largely dominated the film industry, Disney has captured the hearts and minds of millions of people worldwide. And its brand recognition will continue to increase each day.
Starbucks Corporation started as a coffeehouse in 1971 in Seattle, Washington. Today, it has over 15,000 chains in the U.S. alone. However, Starbucks is a global chain with around 15,000 other locations worldwide.
Starbucks has become a popular brand for many reasons. First, they offer a friendly, welcoming experience as soon as you walk in the door. Secondly, they provide unique coffee beverages that every barista crafts to perfection.
Essentially, Starbucks is known for offering a luxurious coffee-drinking experience where people can go to relax while they work or socialize.
Because Starbucks is a premium coffeehouse, customers are willing to pay higher prices for its coffee. It always continues to invent new drinks, establishing itself as progressive, forward-thinking and inclusive — which is why it’s such a beloved brand today.
Favorite Iconic Brands
It’s impossible to cover all the different chains, big corporations and niche brands out there. These are some of the favorite iconic brands among young Americans, but you can likely think of many more. New brands arrive on the scene every year, and some takeoff while others wither away. It should be interesting to see which ways stand the test of time.