I’m a few weeks late to the party with this article, taking some time off for the holidays. But as I dive into work for some new 2019 clients, I have found myself thinking about this piece.
Brunfaut and Greenwood are poking fun at the trend toward clean sans-serif, minimal white space, (likely) “bold” coloring, effectively logo-less logos. They call them “blands”.
“Blands” are young companies that pop up due to a variety of reasons- imitating big tech branding, responding to diverse media needs, relying on simplicity when the business’ message isn’t yet completely clear.
As Brunfaut and Greenwood write, “The problem is that the blands haven’t earned the branding they ape. The big tech companies have strong, simple visual identities that match their strong, simple products.”
Young, untested companies are imitating what took big companies years and years to distill. The result- simple brands that offer no message, no feeling, no story. For these companies, a bland logo makes them look like big-time players at first glance, but “they’re selling untested ideas, and they haven’t had time to cultivate a strong identity.”
Pulling a spot-on comparison, they add, “Blands are like teenagers. They dress the same, talk the same, act the same. They don’t have a defined sense of self or, if they do, they lack the confidence to be it. It’s a school-of-fish mentality where the comfort and safety of the familiar outweigh the risk of attracting too much attention.”
I look at my own logo: sans-serif, type-based, appropriate amount of white space. Yet, for Pilot Light Communications, this feels authentic- a slightly wordy business name, a restaurant reference, and simple graphics. Although trendy, the logo still reflects my personality (and the number of burn scars I still have from my line cooking days).
But I’ve been thinking about how this trend applies to one of my clients in particular, a business with a graphic, flashy, detailed logo. They’ve gotten counseled by marketing and branding professionals, more than a few times, to tone it down- choose a more “classic” font, simplify the graphics, make the image easier to recognize instantly on screens and on signs.
We understand where the advice is coming from- and we always ignore it. I love their logo, because the graphic, flashy, detailed brand matches the graphic, flashy, detailed business. It represents the company, all of their quirks and attitude. Their logo does not fit in with current aesthetics. This makes it… stand out. (And as Brunfaut and Greenwood write, isn’t that the point?)
Aesthetics change; the pendulum shifts. I’m in no way an expert on branding, so I leave that up to professionals much more talented than I am. But when I am working on the messaging for my clients, whether through their logo, their content, or their marketing strategy, we just try to focus on personality. This may lead to branding that fits into the current trend, or it may lead to branding that looks out of place. But above all, we focus on representing the business. We try to be expressive- even if that doesn’t include the appropriate amount of white space, or even, perhaps, (gasp!) a serif font.