Blanding: why so many brands look the same
Let’s start by asking you a question: how many examples of distinctive and memorable brands can you name? (Apart from the obvious ones like Apple, Nike, and Spotify.) Try naming five off the top of your head.
We bet it’s more difficult than you imagined. Think about your favorite car, clothing, or household brand. Do you even have a favorite? And if so, why?
Building a meaningful brand that stands for something in your customer’s mind is tough. There are a lot of elements to get right.
When you’re not clear about your brand and don’t communicate this consistently with your customers, you lose the opportunity to differentiate yourself and stand out. You’ll blend in, become generic, and leave money on the table.
Homogenization in branding
One reason for homogenization across brands is our over-reliance on technology. Fear of failing to keep up with customer demands and competitors has sent tech spending skyrocketing.
By prioritizing technology and chasing efficiency we lost touch with our brand values and qualities that made us successful. Functionality was placed on top of everything else with a smooth customer experience as the ultimate goal.
But you can’t differentiate your brand and create a memorable experience with tech alone. When you go online and look at websites or apps of retailers, banks, or food delivery companies, the similarities are striking and obvious. How are you supposed to choose between hundreds of brands that look more or less the same?
It’s hard for customers to buy your products if they can’t remember who you are in the first place.
The second reason so many brands look the same is our over-dependence on customer’s opinions. We have surrendered our ability to create a vision and stick with it.
Don’t let your customers do your job
In our quest to satisfy the needs and wants of our customers, we became customer-obsessed and forgot about our brands. It’s easy to see why - any book or article you read, conference you attend, or marketer you talk to mentions why it’s essential to put your customers first.
“Our customers are the reason we exist.” “Our brand doesn’t pay our salaries, our customers do.” Or how about, “Our customers are the starting point of any success we’ll have as a brand.” These are statements we often hear from our clients and industry peers.
Here’s the hard truth: putting your customers first in everything you do is the easy way out. Nobody gets fired for making decisions backed by customer insights, feedback, or recommendations. It’s a safe bet. But is it always the right one to make?
We hate to be the ones to break it to you, but your customers don’t care about your brand. They mainly want you to be available whenever and wherever they need you. The rest of the time they just want to be left alone. That super engaging advertising campaign you released to increase website visits? They couldn’t care less.
The relationship between your brand and your customers is yours to build. Creating a strong brand is complex, challenging, and full of sacrifices. You need to make difficult decisions. Deciding what it is you stand for also means deciding what you don’t stand for. That’s never easy. And even scarier, what if you’re wrong?
Keep in mind though, trying to please everyone will ultimately please no one. You’ll end up with a generic and vanilla brand that has a little bit of everything, but stands for nothing in particular. You’ll blend in with all other brands in your category and create more of the same rather than stand for something unique and different.
Branding may be a process, but requires creativity and guts.
What marketing is about
Marketing has always been about building bridges between your product and your customer through your brand. It’s identifying the wants and needs of your customers, your business, and how they match up.
In our opinion, it’s not a question of either-or. You need to have a clearly defined brand and understand your customers to be successful. Both are part of what marketing is all about. But how do you go about it?
Our new branding guide is out now
Our fresh new guide, Great marketing starts with your brand, will help you identify ways to build a strong brand and set yourself apart. After 20+ years of branding experience, we’ve found that the value of building lasting and meaningful relationships with your customers through branding is immeasurable. Download your digital copy here and start reading right away.