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Brand communication in crisis

Have you noticed a lot of things are starting to look and sound pretty similar?


From the design of books and cars, to the making of music, and even people’s faces, it’s fair to say we might be in the middle of a cultural low point (not helped by a global pandemic, a climate crisis, general political skullduggery and social justice shithousery).  


And when culture starts to bore, brands will follow; unwittingly and in the same direction as one another. So despite what might feel like a golden age in creativity, the lack of difference and distinctiveness in brand communication is concerning.


Drawing on nearly two decades of effectiveness data, history and the latest research in neuroscience, Orlando Wood, author of Lemon, suggests as a result of culture flattening, advertising creativity is in crisis.


It’s hard to disagree. In fact I’d go even further and say all brand communication is in crisis, not just advertising. After all, a brand is more than just the sum of its ads. Everything communicates as the old adage goes. Take websites, fonts, logos and even the golden child of marketing - customer experience. Everything is absolutely the same. The art of communication is dying a slow and painful death.  


But why? Well, it’s mostly thanks to technology and while fighting against it might be futile, we should at least be aware of its downsides.


"Every extension of mankind, especially technological extensions, has the effect of amputating or modifying some other extension.” - Marshall McLuhan


Essentially, what technology gives us, it also takes away.


Brand communication is now created for the lowest common denominator. We are forced to compromise being distinctive in order to fit into technological constraints. Hence the flattening of logos.


Templated design tools and great inventions like Canva make communicating easier for more people, but your creativity now has parameters.


Technology isn’t great for inspiration either. Yes, there’s a lot on the internet, but when everyone is searching for the same things, in the same places, at the same time, we’re left copying the same inspiration. The popular gets more popular, rapidly. Gone are the days of wandering off to the library to find an obscure reference few others have found.


Testing and learning is great. But while optimising fonts, copy and colours to death increases conversion, every brand is doing it. We’re complicit in optimising our brands closer to each other.


Technology does of course give us great things. Amazing tools to create, make, produce, share and ultimately communicate. But when things feel too easy, when we fail to invest effort, thought and resources into brand communication, it’s likely we don’t have a brand at all, we’re simply left with nonsense-vertising like this.

Words by Managing Partner, Carl Moggridge.

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