A new logo trend, termed “blanding,” features a mass-simplification of identity design. Discover how this minimalist approach to design can impact your brand.
Over time, brands will typically undergo a rebranding process in order to remain current with consumers, to hone down their overall strategy and look, or to completely overhaul the previous identity. This is done to signify a change in the brand’s products, services, name, audience, leadership, and more.
Updating or changing a brand’s identity — the logo, colors, typography, patterns, and other visual aspects — is imperative in order to remain up-to-date with the current market and appeal to consumers. This process of rebranding typically takes a decent amount of time to arrive at the best identity solution.
That said, discover how jumping on the “blanding” train can impact your brand and learn a few best practices to keep in mind when approaching a rebrand of your business.
What is Blanding?
The term “blanding” refers to the oversimplification of both established and up-and-coming brands alike. Fashion houses that carried a classy yet elegant identity with Didone-style serifs and carefully designed marks are now shifting over to monoweight sans serifs and decreased letterspace. Tech-oriented brands, such as GoDaddy and Uber, are also resorting to this minimalist style to retain legibility on various devices.
So, what happens when that precious rebranding process becomes minimized? Brands whose identity takes on a cookie-cutter appearance to appeal to mass audiences often lose its original personality. Think of brands as an individual; just like you and me, brands should have their own unique characteristics and qualities that make them stand out amongst others. When brands lose the features that make them exclusive to others, there may be a disconnect between the new identity and the original.
So, why is there a collective movement towards the minimalist identity? Do all logos need to be ultra refined in this day and age? This is not to say that a minimal logo is inherently bad; it’s to say that not all brands fit that specific aesthetic. Just because it can be done doesn’t mean it should be done. The best practice is to explore many other options before resorting to a simple approach.
Tech brands are notoriously known for this pared-down approach; the drive-sharing giant Uber leaned towards a straightforward identity to evoke professionalism yet retain universality amongst its consumers. While less is certainly more, when does the brand’s visuals become too simple? After all, basic shapes and lines tend to get lost with the consumer base over time.
Just because simplicity makes the brand more legible across different platforms doesn’t mean it should be the go-to for all design. While the issue of readability in typography and logo design is important, it can strip all of a brand’s character in the name of legibility. There is a balance here; brands should be both expressive and mindful of where the branding lives, not tasteless and monotonous in the name of digital age.
Best Practices to Avoid Bland Design
Bland design is anything but memorable. When consumers struggle with brand recognition even after seeing your identity across multiple channels, it’s a sign that your brand visuals just aren’t resonating with the crowd.
Here are some tips and best practices to keep in mind when going through the (re)branding process.
Tip 1: Amplify Your Brand’s Unique Qualities
Before even thinking about the design process, sit down with yourself—or others—and think of the unique qualities your brand has. Good design amplifies these qualities, and helps consumers visualize what sets your brand apart from others. A generic and bland design equals a generic and bland brand.
Tip 2: Be Wary of the Trendy Route
Trends are trends for a reason; they fluctuate, change over short periods of time, and cycle continuously. A trend should not be the inspiration for your identity. Just because neon colors are trending this year doesn’t mean you absolutely have to incorporate them into your brand. Keep design trends in mind, but don’t let them take over your brand’s identity.
A good brand identity will outlive any trend. Trendy designs also warrant constant updates in order to stay current.
Tip 3: Do Extensive Research Before Designing
Research in any aspect of design is crucial, especially in identity design. This extensive design research process enables you to find solutions to the problem and execute them in a way that translates visually. When designing for a brand, the identity is more than just the visual aesthetics.
Do extensive research on the industry, competitors, and target market before tackling visual research. Having a good foundational knowledge on your brand enables you to create a successful design.