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Does Minimal Branding Devalue Brand Equity?


Blandification:  Brands across categories adopting similar minimal branding cues.
Blandification: Brands across categories adopting similar minimal branding cues.

In my 20+ years of creating and modernizing brand identities for brands big and small, B2B and B2C, the answer is: YES- it absolutely can, especially when you lose so much of what made you special in the first place.


All brands need to stay relevant with their audience, and almost all at some point, will need a branding refresh. The question is how to evolve. Companies often look to current trends to understand what audiences find engaging, but following them may put your brand equity at risk.


Blandification:  Brands across categories adopting similar minimal branding cues.

The trend over the last 5+ years has been minimal branding- many big-name brands simplifying down to a less is more approach, especially in how they treat their brand names, and where big brands go, others follow.


Minimal branding is meant to be simple, uncluttered, easy to read or the term I think sums it up the best- BLAND or Blandification. Blandification is the current trend of brands across categories adopting similar and minimal branding cues.


Blandification while being easy to read, sacrifices all that is unique and special about a brand.


The move to minimal branding has 3 drivers:

1) The need to be seen in the micro-world of mobile-first communication.

2) Audiences are less interested in materialism and brands being ostentatious.

3) The desire to reach new audiences by being more universal.


There is a better way to stand out and expand your consumer or customer base. The term I use is INSPIRED ESSENTIALS. It is about understanding and heroing what makes your brand distinctive and then, and only then, eliminate the non-essential. Your audience needs a reason to connect to your brand and it needs to be authentic, human and true to who you are.


Inspired Essentials- Minimal branding with meaning

Look at Mural bringing meaningful structure and play to their letterforms, Bolt creatively integrating a visual symbol into their name and 7-up owning what is unique in their name with the red dot.


 

Put it to the test- which pet food company do you connect with more?

PetCo or Made by Nacho? PetCo’s latest rebrand borders on bland and uninspired- a simplified name, neutralized color and homogenized graphic where Made by Nacho- has feeling, a story behind it and is easy to remember.


Pet care branding- Petco versus Made by Nacho

 

How inspiring and essential is your branding? What would your customers or consumers say? When considering a brand refresh remember it is important for brand to be easy to find, but simplicity should never be in place of a meaningful and memorable connection.


What other Inspired Essential examples do you have? Please share, we'd love to hear from you.


The Brand Evaluator is a joint venture of independent brand builders – Michelle Thompson, BrandSpark Design LLC and Christine Sech, Brave Oak Brand Building LLC. We work with emerging businesses to help them clearly and meaningfully convey their organization’s value through brand building strategy, design and content that drives results.




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