From bland to brand and back again.

We’re living in the age of disruption. So why do so many DTC brands look and sound the same?

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s another DTC business. 

It’s 2020 and we’ve watched category after category be “disrupted” by direct-to-consumer players for the last 10 years. 

At first, we were excited. We did it when we built frank body. We thrived on the challenge of creating truly unique brands that connected with consumers. But now, we’re in the era of paint by numbers brand building. 

Step 1: Build colour palette featuring Pantone colour of the year. Check.

Step 2: Secure typeface that is only marginally different to the major competitor in the space. Check.

Step 3: Attach snappy brand statement that doesn’t really explain the product benefits as much as it does potentially cause confusion and/or offence. Check.

Ta da: You have a DTC brand. 

Does the product work? Don’t know. But look at that icon! 

Customers are smart. Far smarter than a lot of marketers give them credit for. And they’re catching on. With brands fighting for attention in ever increasingly obnoxious, expected or downright bland ways, customer fatigue is sure to set in.

The new era of brands emerging feel cold. They feel soulless. They feel like a measly grab at my wallet. They feel exactly like the brands they were trying to disrupt; with cleaner fonts. Brand is the new bland and vice versa. 

Blanding started in the tech space and has crept into the ever growing consumer goods sector, clogging up your news feed with content that looks rather receptive. Dejavu is no longer just a feeling that you’ve lived through the present moment before. You literally did, 5 seconds ago. It was another mattress company.

So what’s the problem? Are we just another angry team of creatives fed up with the competitive landscape. Maybe. But more importantly, we’re concerned that people and businesses are spending their money on the shiny finishings, without earning their stripes. And earning your stripes is important because that’s where lasting customer loyalty is built. And customer loyalty is where retention and profitability live. Just look at Caspers latest financials.

And yes, we understand that there is functional reason for blanding in an omni-channel environment. Bold colours and sans-serif type work well across the diverse media on which brands live today, from a tiny screen to a billboard.

What does this mean for founders with ambitious goals for growth or existing businesses with evolution challenges? It means finding what makes you different, accepting it and even (branding-gods-forbid) highlighting it.

It also means engaging branding partners with proven experience in building brands that retain customers, not just acquires them before they disappear off to the next bland that appears in their feed.  We suggest finding partners who can foresee that even if at one point your offering is totally unique, it won’t always be that way, and build you a brand that can grow and evolve as needed. 

In an age where everyone wants to stand out, it’s going to take some honest conversations and truly delicious strategy and creative thinking to do so. And even harder will be to do it for the long haul. Because we all know that the attention span of peo…