Blandness is the enemy of brands. How to avoid it.

09 May, 2019 Share socially

“In the past, we all wanted our brands to be loved by everybody, today we’d rather have them appreciated by some (maybe hated by others), but ignored by nobody.”

When people think of a brand they increasingly no longer have a specific product in mind, rather they think and feel more broadly for example about a way of life based on specific values which that brand incorporates. Affinity for a brand’s ‘world’ has gone beyond the specific product when once the two were intertwined .

“We, as consumers, no longer operate just around products because our trust in and ability to understand and decode brands has never been so high”, says Francesco Buschi, Head of Strategy at FutureBrand Milan.

This can sometimes lead to brands becoming cliched and generic in the way they operate and these are traps which should be avoided. Here are 4 of the worst offenders:

Be good

We are not suggesting that brands should go to the Dark Side and behave unethically, but being good at any cost is not always the correct choice either. We live in turbulent times and brands can no longer afford to shy away from their responsibility to take a stand - they need a clear purpose and they must live up to it. In doing so they need to accept that not everyone will agree with them but for each customer who chooses to walk away, there is the opportunity to win over someone else for life. “Their stance must be clear and consistent with both their brand philosophy and goals but crucially it must translate into tangible actions”, according to Buschi.

The Big Idea

Brands no longer need just one Big Idea, as Buschi explains “Today a brand is a constellation of small gestures, of consistent and consecutive actions. You don’t need to wait for the big idea or concept to decide what you want to be. In 2018, Netflix launched no less than 700 original on demand series, transforming their offering to become one of the most powerful brands in the world. Their success is based not only on the long tail of the convenient, quality entertainment they deliver, it is supported by their widespread global presence and by the seamless experience they provide – the gestures, actions and details”.

Quantity = relevance

Stop trying to be everywhere and making noise for the sake of it. Less is often more. To stand out from the crowd and differentiate themselves, brands need to be more selective.

“Nowadays brand touchpoints must be created with a selected or given target clearly in mind, and actions need to be well measured and tailored to the appropriate channel taking into account the social and cultural nuances”.

Innocent Drinks struck gold with their innovative #nightmarketing social campaign which saw them advertise on city billboards only at night to stand out from ‘those who try to sell you things during the day’”. Quirky and unconventional, it encouraged their audience to communicate with them at all hours of the day.

Stay true to oneself

Don’t be fooled into thinking that sticking steadfastly to something is the best way to achieve brand coherence. Evolving and changing in line with society and your target audience is healthy as long as it is faithful to your brand’s image. If you stand still, you run the risk of becoming old and irrelevant.

This article by Cristina Lazzati was first published in La Repubblica.