We are in the most fast moving period of time, ever. Think about it – the first smartphone arrived on the scene a mere 25 years ago, and every few years it morphs into something brand spanking new that we can’t wait to get our hands on.
As companies (and life as we know it) evolve, you would think that the world would have perfected how to create a unique, powerful brand by now. Well, we’re here to drop a bomb on you. Most major companies are ditching their unique branding in favor of (insert gasps, shudders, and gags here) the bland.
What Is Blanding?
“Blanding” is the antithesis of branding. It’s the process of creating generic brand identities that follow repetitive trends in the name of modernity, but at the expense of authenticity and differentiation.
Experts are going as far as to call it a “trend”. Personally, we find this to be kind of ironic as a trend is often described as a detectable change, but blanding has flown under most people’s radars thus far. That’s probably because it’s so boring. Let’s dive into the nitty gritty of blanding so you can avoid falling into this trap!
How do I know if I’m a blanding offender?
Are you in the tech industry?
The majority of blands are popping up among the tech industry. If you consider the fact that some of the most well-known tech companies on earth are blands, this isn’t surprising. If you think you belong in tech, you’ll probably copy this branding style without thinking twice about it.
Does your brand use a sans-serif typeface?
You know, the one without the extra lines and features at the tips of each letter. The ones that add character? No? Ok. Clearly all the cool kids stick to sans-serif typefaces.
Do you obsess over white space?
Blands love white space for readability and the “clean” feel it gives off. The more the better. Keeping it simple is an absolute must- this goes as far as saying if a logo is cluttering your vibe, you should ditch it! This is a whole new level of minimalism.
Are you nuts about vibrant colors?
I guess when you don’t have much on the page to appeal to the eyes (re: white space), it makes sense to use obnoxious colors whenever possible. You get bland points for bright blues or purples.
This isn’t to say a technology company can’t ever use bright colors, sans-serif fonts, or ample white space again! But, if these features encompass all of your defining brand elements, you may benefit from incorporating more unique visuals into your brand to differentiate yourself from the competition.
Ok, maybe I’m a bland. So what?
Tech giants like Google and Volvo each earned their branding. Intuitively, consumers understand that these companies are future-oriented, new, friendly, and youthful. A simple, yet powerful branding strategy for a simple, yet powerful product. It makes sense.
What we often forget is that their logos weren’t always this way. Does anyone remember when Google had an exclamation point and serif font? Are we aging ourselves? If you don’t believe us…. Google it! We’re telling the truth.
Or, take Volvo as an example. This brand built themselves around safety and did everything they could to attach themselves to the idea. Hence, when they invented the three-point seatbelt, they decided to share the patent with the world instead of keeping it to themselves. This sacrificed innumerable profits, but they chose to do it because it would save lives all over the world. Cue an excellent brand strategy and major points for respect!
In the present day, Volvo has pledged that no more deaths or serious injuries will occur in a new Volvo by 2020. They are still sticking tight to their original, well thought-out, and demonstrated branding– and it’s paying off. They’ve maintained an excellent brand image.
Each of these massive companies has had to earn their stripes, first starting with a unique brand (with an idea to match), then demonstrating their commitment to that brand with their actions, to be remembered by others. They intentionally stood out from the crowd. Later, they had the opportunity to dial back the uniqueness to better encompass their current company direction and align with industry trends. Sometimes, as we see with Volvo, the branding doesn’t even need to change at all. They’re still rocking that serif font and remain dedicated to safety! We love it.
In essence, adopting blanding techniques for your brand-new start-up is just not a good idea. You may not have a strong industry presence yet, so trying to blend in with the crowd means that you will likely get lost instead of swept up in everyone else’s success.
How do I go from bland to brand?
Be true to your company. Your brand should be expressive, personal, honest… and of course, different.
You need to find out precisely who you are, at your roots. We recognize that this may be difficult for new companies. Consider asking questions like: What makes you different? Why are you worth talking about? What’s the least obvious thing about you? Dig deep to find your true sense of your brand. Once you’ve identified it, run with it! Take it to great lengths!
Blanding is squashing what makes up-and-coming companies so special, for the sole sake of following in the footsteps of the current industry giants. But, as you can see, the tech giants went on a journey of self-discovery and branding themselves long ago. They chose to stand out from the crowds, be it through logos or actions. If you think you can skip the maturation part of your company’s journey by copying some other company’s path to success, you miss the opportunity to tell the kind of unique, authentic brand stories that consumers crave.
If you consider the tech world now, looking at the logos of major companies branding is like looking at a wall of bricks. You’re going to have to look really closely to notice any differences between them. So, do you want to be another brick in the wall? Probably not. What I’m trying to say is that your company is special. And growing. And exciting. You deserve to discover who you are and to celebrate it. Equally, you deserve to stand out from the pack precisely because of that. Don’t do yourself a disservice by choosing blanding.