May '24

Blend in or stand out? Why we predict creative and crafted logos will return to fight off the ‘blanding’ trend

Tom Bradley in Branding


'Blanding' is a term used to describe the recent trend of creating remarkably similar, indistinguishably ‘modern’ brands typified by a simple sans serif logotype and simplified iconography.

In essence, the mantra is ‘less is more’ with the goal of blending in… but is this at the cost of something deeper and more profound?

Why are brands becoming more bland?

In reality, the intention is for mass appeal. Standing out from the pack with a more unique brand will inevitably please some more than others. In a world where mass-appeal is everything to big businesses, this simply won’t do! The results of which are a fear of boldness and a comfort in fitting in.

Bland logo designs

A simpler logo is also generally considered easier to seamlessly translate across multiple platforms. This sort of flexibility is very attractive to large scale businesses that come into contact with customers in hundreds of different ways.

What are the negatives of having a bland brand?

When you attempt to engage with everyone, you end up producing a logo that’s highly generic and whilst it’s inoffensive and ‘liked’ by most, it isn’t really ‘loved’ by anyone.

In an effort to be ‘in with the in crowd’, you strip your business of any sort of unique brand positioning and instead you effectively camouflage yourself in amongst a saturated marketplace.

As such, by simplifying your logo, you’ve traded the problem of appealing to the masses with a new problem - differentiating yourself within a crowded marketplace. Is there a more creative solution out there?

Branding is supposed to celebrate what makes you unique, right?

Let’s take a step back and consider why brands are so important and what a great logo design should be doing for your business:

  • A good brand is memorable

  • It expresses the right message

  • It tells a story

  • It’s unique

  • It portrays a particular personality

When you consider these points, a step towards sameness is surely counterintuitive? How can you make a real impact and drive brand loyalty when you look and sound like everyone else?

We’ve always thought of brands like people - it takes all sorts and whether you’re loud and proud, quiet and sophisticated, provocative or funny, it’s important that your brand expresses the right personality. Can you imagine trying to hold a conversation with someone devoid of all personality or someone pretending to be something they’re not just to fit in? Not a great experience.

Can you add personality to a bland brand?

It’s important to remember of course, that a brand is more than just a logo and there’s nothing to say that you can’t inject personality by other means. For instance, look at brands like Apple and Uber - both have evolved into very crisp, clinical looking logo designs and its their bold marketing, creative content and tone of voice that make their brands unique.

For these brands, it’s more about the overall brand experience than the visuals. They know what differentiates themselves from others, they understand how to achieve an emotional response and they use storytelling as a powerful marketing tool to drive brand loyalty.

However, some paths can be well-trodden and there are pitfalls that brands should consider. For example - close your eyes and imagine a modern tech brand… it’s a sans serif right? Probably black or navy blue with vibrant accent colours of electric blue, turquoise and purple. OK, so we’re meeting the blandness criteria here. Let’s think about their content - probably cheeky, direct and overly friendly right?

Can you remember the name of this business? Probably not, the likelihood is that it’s blended in with the hundreds of other tech companies just like it. They look the same, they talk the same, they are in effect - the same.

Just like people, every brand personality should be deep, nuanced and unique - otherwise you’re just another clone straight off the conveyer belt.

Is this the end for expressive typography and intriguing icon designs?

The rise in popularity of more minimal branding has let to brands like Yves Saint Laurent, eBay, Johnson & Johnson (and countless others) ditching their famously characterful, historical and more unique roots in favour of something altogether more sterile.

Bland rebrand examples

Fortunately it’s now looking like more creative, characterful and intricate designs are set to return with a bang - possibly as a result of emerging AI technologies and the growing desire to lean back towards something more hand-crafted, artistic and altogether more human.

Authenticity, honesty and a powerful vision have long been the key to success in branding and marketing and we’re keen to see a diverse world of expressive design make its long-awaited reprise.

Burberry re-rebrand

Interestingly, some big brands that had opted for a more minimal rebrand in recent years have since made a return to more characterful designs such as Burberry's re-rebrand that harks back to the brand's long-standing heritage.

Celebrating difference

We've included a number of examples of minimal logo designs in this post so it's probably right that we celebrate some of those household names that have bucked the trend and maintained their unique position in the world!

Expressive logos

... and of course some examples of our own...

Root Studio logo designs

If you'd like to discuss your own logo design or brand evolution then get in touch.

Thanks for reading

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