Blanding, or the Branding Paradox

The Brands That Inspired the Blands

Apple. Google. Airbnb. Uber. Perhaps you’ve heard of them. These brands communicate in basic codes that function almost like signage. You might say it’s “intuitive” branding. The cues are all right there: youth, friendliness, progress, newness, nowness and, above all, tech. With the wild success of these companies, their shared visual language has become a diner placemat-treasure map for countless tech hopefuls. Let us call them: the blands.

Is your made-up name rendered in a sans-serif type, with thiiiiiiiis much white space? Congratulations! You are a bland.

The Difference Between Brands and Blands — Show, Don’t Tell.

The problem is that the blands haven’t earned the branding they ape. The big tech companies have strong, simple visual identities that match their strong, simple products. In many cases, they are their product. Their branding has evolved to reflect their powerful missions. Google’s logo wasn’t always the pared-back wordmark you see today. It matured, lost its quirks (remember that exclamation point!), and became a better representation of the company over time, as Google itself grew up.

The Challenge of Omnichannel Branding

It’s easy to see why tech would embrace blanding so wholeheartedly. Many of the companies are young, they’re selling untested ideas, and they haven’t had time to cultivate a strong identity.

Tweet about Burberry’s controversial rebranding by Peter Saville

Real Brands Blend Out

Blanding has left us with a cultural backwater of superficial brands that have been simplified to the graphic equivalent of a Trump tweet. I’m not advocating for getting back to fanciful, illustrative logos. I’m asking simply for brands to more expressive. That doesn’t mean loud, it just means personal. Honest. True. And Different.

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Thierry Brunfaut

Thierry Brunfaut

Head of Creation & Founding Partner @Base_design • Author of the #5MinutePosterSeries • http://instagram.com/thierrybrunfaut/