Have you noticed that all brands are starting to look the same?
Open up any website or social channel, and you’ll ﬁnd page after page of eerily similar single product shots with plain backgrounds. It seems like most brands have settled on iterations of the same minimal design: solid colors, ultra-simple logos, and sans-serif typography.
Brands are stepping away from the things that make them unique and cultivating a monolithic aesthetic that's eroding their quality.
We live in a time in which most customers celebrate authenticity and individuality. So why do so many of today’s brands look alike?
The rise of tech
These days, everyone is using the same technology. After all, we marketers want to keep up with our competitors and meet our customers’ demands. Except somewhere along the way, we became so ﬁxated on keeping up with the rapid advancements in technology that we forget to focus on our creativity.
By prioritizing technology and chasing eﬃciency, we lost touch with our brand values and the other qualities that make us successful. We placed functionality ahead of everything else and let the latest tech dictate the terms of our strategy.
But you can’t diﬀerentiate your brand and create a memorable experience with tech alone. And customers won’t buy your products if they don’t remember who you are. The only way for your brand to actually innovate and stand out is to go back to your roots and re-examine who you are.
The customer isn’t always right
We all know the sacred principle, “the customer is king.” Most of the time, it’s true: the success of your brand depends on the happiness of your customers.
But the reality is, not everything is about the customer. Nor should it be.
When push comes to shove, customers don’t always tell the truth or do what they say they will. Oftentimes, they don’t even know what they want or why they purchase certain brands. So it doesn’t make sense to base your entire brand strategy on customer insights and feedback. Your ﬁrst priority should always be building your brand.
While we’re busy drafting personas, running focus groups, and sending out customer satisfaction surveys, it's easy to forget about our brand. And yet, if you don’t know who you are, what you stand for, or why you’re in business, how can you expect to eﬀectively communicate and connect with customers?
If you can’t express yourself authentically, your connections with customers will always be shallow and weak. Deep, meaningful emotional connections come from brands with a clear vision and purpose.
Marketing has always meant building bridges between your product and your customer through your brand. It’s pinpointing the ways in which the wants and needs of our customers
and our business match up. It also means remembering that trying to please everyone will ultimately please no one.
To be successful, you need to understand your customers and have a clearly deﬁned brand. There’s no either/or. If you start with your brand ﬁrst, the rest will follow.
The keys to an eﬀective brand are ultimately authenticity and relevance. Tapping into the emotions behind your branding will help you attract and connect with your customers. That means:
1. Starting every initiative with your core brand values
2. Telling well-crafted and heartfelt stories
3. Reﬂecting your brand identity through your design
4. Building a community where your customers can gather and interact
Relevance comes from watching your market, anticipating what your customers will want, and understanding what is personal to them. You can stay relevant by:
1. Anticipating their needs
2. Out-innovating the competition
3. Making daring choices
4. Valuing your instincts along with your data
5. Inspiring your audience
The future of your brand will be determined by your creativity and guts. Don’t be afraid to make bold steps, smart experiments, quick fails, and great wins. What will matter most is how you deﬁne and diﬀerentiate your brand.
As a branding agency, we are focused on creating exceptional digital experiences. We even wrote a guide that explains how to harness your identity to create a unique and memorable brand. Get your digital copy and start reading right away.
By Pim van Helten
CEO and co-founder of DPDK digital agency. He has been building strong and authentic brands since 2004. His mission? Transforming brands through exceptional digitalism.