A few years ago investing in branding was enough to stand out from competitors but now a clear, defined brand is no longer a competitive advantage; it's a standard starting point for any brand. Visually speaking, modern brands are beginning to all look the same - the illustration style, poppy colors and accessible tone of voice is no longer innovative but rather making a sea of bland brands.
Products are using branding as a form reassurance especially when it does not have a game-changing product. For example, companies like Uber, Spotify and Stripe don't need to use a brand to leverage themselves since their product is innovative enough by itself.
You can also use branding as a change agent to turn around long-held assumptions. Oatly managed to change a 20-year old product into a genuine movement. Oatly also managed to embrace conflict to reframe the product. Its slogan "It's like milk but made for humans" positioned the product in a completely fresh but simple way. Hims is another brand which managed to achieve this by reimagining erectile dysfunction pills into a premium lifestyle brand.
The bottom line is that breaking the rules of branding is challenging but makes you totally credible. Doing this makes you balance aspiration and provocation, making you challenge existing behaviors or beliefs without seeming arrogant. It takes a brave client and a lot of trust to take this path but in an era where getting noticed is harder than ever, the biggest risk when it comes to branding is not taking a risk at all.
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