Brands Gone Bland

Mar 20, 2023

By: Pamela Long

Let’s talk about blanding. Stripping down a brand until it’s a mere shell of its former self. It seems to be in abundance these days. After all, don’t all consumers appreciate a clean, modern package? The short answer is no.

In many ways, blanding, is the easy route to recreating or reinventing a brand. Just strip it down to its ‘essence’ and call it a day. But most brands, like most people, have lots of layers and nuance. By removing all that, you are essentially creating a less ownable, less compelling brand for the consumer. The hard part is knowing what to keep, what to evolve and what you can discard without losing your consumer, while creating something with greater appeal.

A great example of a brand that recently went bland is Newman Own’s. This is a brand that by all accounts should be personality plus – It was started by one of the world’s most recognizable Hollywood icons and its purpose is to create revenue that is given 100% to charity. Talk about unique. Did I mention it has always had fun and been high on the quirkiness scale. And yet the updated brand design is now hyper consistent, clean and modern. Brand blocking at its best right?

Before:

After:

I can see the brief now and I get how they ended up where they did. I just wish someone would have raised their hand and questioned losing some of the layers. Was it perfect, no, but neither was the actual human behind the brand. The updated brand is pretty, it’s consistent, and there is nothing really wrong with it. But I would argue it could be 10 other brands.

How can you avoid blanding yourself?

Never forget your DNA. It’s tempting to keep up with the Jones’, but have the courage to share your unique voice. Break some rules.

Custom everything is your friend – typography, illustration, photography. Your brand is unique and its branding should be as well.

And don’t underestimate the importance of finding an agency partner who really gets you. One who is obsessed with doing what’s right for YOUR brand, not THEIR portfolio. The world needs more character and so does the retail shelf.

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