Why brands are boring?

Author: Szymon Dyrlaga

5 min read

Why brands are boring?

‘General landscape of advertising agencies and branding studios generate brands and communications that are boring – this is how Radek Kocjan, Senior Brand Consultant at Admind, started a webinar about ‘Brand vs Branding‘. Today I’m going to expand on this thought and tell you how to prevent your brand from being boring.

Narcissistic brands

Every one of us knows such a person who constantly talks only about himself. Boring! And while everyone knows it’s better not to be that person, the people behind the brands seem to forget that. As a result, many brands focus on themselves, their products, or their services when communicating with the audience. For them, I have a painful truth – people don’t want to hear about your “the best on the market” or “using the latest technology” products. At this point, I remind myself of a book I read some time ago ‘Advertising for skeptics’, by Bob Hoffman. He mentioned the great enthusiasm brands had when social media was thriving:

‘When the idea of social media first was introduced, it seemed impossible that it wouldn’t have massive value in marketing. The logic went something like this: People are going to use social media to talk with each other. They are interested in brands. They will surely have conversations with and about brands. […] As time went on, however, it became clear that the philosophical foundation of social media marketing was flawed. People were enthusiastic about engaging with their friends on social media by sharing personal experiences, political opinions, silly videos, photos of children, pets, and meals. People were excited about connecting with athletes, movie stars, and pop singers. But they seemed to demonstrate little or no interest in talking with or about most brands – except to gripe about mistreatment’.

Focus on your audience

What are the lessons to be learned from this? I think the above excerpt is true not only about social media but marketing as a whole. Brands should focus more on their audience when reaching them through all touchpoints. Consider, what your audience is interested in. What worries them? What are their problems and what could help to solve them? And set the brand’s communications in this very context. Talking about common issues of interest to people is literally the only way to get your audience’s attention for your products and services. Simple example: do people care that a product was created using the latest technology? Not necessarily. And do they care that it was created to help the hundreds of thousands of people struggling with the problem of loneliness during the isolation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic? Answer yourself.

Brand book – a bone of contention

When you want to build a brand, you usually start with conducting a bunch of market research, preparing a strategy, and designing. You create logotype, typography, iconography, colours, layout definition, UX, illustrations, voice and tone, or sound. Moreover, some people humanize the brand, adding values, things the brand care about, stories around them, and cultural context (which is great!). Having that, many companies decide to publish a brand book. It is a helpful tool for everyone who will work with the brand in the future. It’s a manual about how you can use the brand when you create, for example, a marketing campaign or make a video. And this is also a bone of contention.

The community of graphic designers is divided on whether the brand book should be treated as a set of brand guidelines or as a bible. Followers of the second version certainly have one advantage: if they entirely stick to the guide, no one will have the right to complain about them. But the question is: is it good for the brand?

First of all, it seems to be a slow slaughter of graphic designers’ creativity. How long can you do the same things without getting off the beaten track? A brand should evolve and open up to new things from time to time. Meanwhile, if you repeat the same phrases and visuals over and over again, you will never break through a new audience. You will become a boring brand that is not capable of surprising anything. So, when you have a brand book, treat it more like a set of guidelines, and don’t be obsessed about it! In that way, you will increase both your brand consistency and attractiveness.

Why brands are boring

The drawbacks of being a wallflower

I’m of course talking about brands, not people. As an expert behind a brand, you should always look for associations with other brands, products, celebrities, and influencers. By becoming such a “sociable” brand, it can synergize, can join forces with other cultural phenomenon and artifacts. Radek Kocjan during the ‘Brand vs Branding’ webinar mentioned the example of The Strategist. It provides opportunities for this as a medium that publish content aggregating various products. For example, if your company manufactures sports shoes, being mentioned on one list with Adidas can elevate your brand. It can make more people hear about your products. You can learn more examples of such associations and partnerships from the webinar. But for now, it’s necessary to remember, that Brands operating exclusively in their own ecosystem lose the opportunity to attract new audiences.

Brands without a purpose are boring

Brands that have no purpose other than to make money may soon become uninteresting to consumers and thus extinct. Nowadays, people living in developed countries have unlimited access to basic goods and own more than they need. Their state of mind is increasingly changing, and in place of the need to consume comes the need to influence the environment, social issues, or working conditions. These will be satisfied by the conscious brands. Conscious branding is a new trend that progressive brands are following. Those that want to promote certain brand values and change the world for the better. These brands will become attractive to people who share similar beliefs. Because the choice between a brand with no values and the one that cares seems obvious.

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