Blandification. How Beige Are You?

One of the defining design trends of recent times, ‘blanding’ which became synonymous with big tech and startup culture, has become alarmingly commonplace, even mainstream.

What is blanding? In many ways it is the antithesis of branding. It is an effort by companies to look the SAME as their competitors, because that feels safer. It’s also the result of an unfortunate supposition that whilst a company is constantly blasting out digital ads with AI, they don’t need to look distinctive or memorable. Additionally, companies have long been told by tech guys and lazy designers that things need to be simplified to work on screens. That’s straight out of the 90s and just not true any more.

The result of blanding is that every company logo and house-style becomes a stripped out, sans-serif lookalike, indistinguishable from a thousand and one others.

So regarding branding, let’s set the record straight: BRANDS talk directly to PEOPLE. People love to love brands because brands help people to identify who they are to others. The brands people identify with are an outward display of their personality; their success, their astuteness, their intellect or their modesty, their courageousness, optimism, compassion, environmentalism, humour or friendliness. You get the picture – blandified brands resonate with none of these qualities, or any others for that matter.

Going back to basics, well-thought-out brands mark out companies with distinct qualities. They are memorable and act as a deep, psychological trigger when certain needs arise. Knowledge of them is proactively passed from person to person (for free) because people love to share the things they find useful or that make them happy or distinguish them. Companies with strong and distinctive brands need to spend less on advertising, because their values are remembered and their competitors have to work very, very hard to capture someone else’s loyal brand fan.

As Erik Speakermann the world famous typographer and brand designer recently said, “When all brands are beige, the beigest one will not win, but be forgotten.”

It’s time to de-homogenise, build personal connections with customers and go from bland to brand.

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