Brand Building Brand Identity Brand Image Brand Narrative Brand Philosophy Differentiation Positioning Strategic Brand Strategy

Lorem Ipsum Dolor?

June 3rd, 2013

We’ve all bumped into Cicero’s Latin placeholder in templates, websites and other draft work pieces.  It serves to give a sense of shape, text or typography without confusion “by removing the distraction of meaningful content”.(1)loremipsumcomic

Unfortunately, the same is true for much of the results of “branding” projects, or “re-branding” initiatives.  They remove the distraction of meaningful content, stand out messaging, or specific differentiation.  Everyone says they want to be different, to be unique…  yet far too often their messages are dumbed down, the positioning is “same-as-the-other-guy”, and the look and feel could belong to The Man In the Grey Flannel Suit.

We call it the “Fish-In-Water” syndrome.  Highly contagious and hard to shake, symptoms include; tag lines that say everything while saying nothing; positioning statements  that sound like a committee wrote them from some badly photocopied lists; differentiation based on quality, customer service or price (gasp); website and brochure copy suitable for treatment of insomnia; and a logo in the shame shade of Pantone PMS300 blue.

Cases in point (names have been changed to protect the innocent):

  • As part of a series of audits for a technology company, we reviewed dozens of competitive and industry association websites, brochures and white papers.  We printed them in black and white and redacted the logos, but not the tag lines.  No one could identify who they belonged to by the text.  Lorem Ipsum Dolor. Except in English.
  • A professional firm needed to develop a unique brand, including positioning, to help win more clients.  When they handed us their recently “re-branded” brochure, the candidly admitted that it was the same as a number of others in their industry. The design was different, though. Sort of.
  • After looking at a collection of competitive logos on an industry site, a food and beverage company with national ambitions and an iconic logo noted that all the competitors included a description or tag line in their logo so maybe we should add those to their logo as well.  We printed out Apple and Coca Cola logos.  Shortest discussion ever.

Mimicking the programs and strategies of the bored and lifeless that are buckling down, backing off, and playing it safe is a dangerous bet and a lousy excuse for not doing what you really want to do.

Committing imitation wasn’t ever a form of flattery; it’s always been boring and it’s really overdone. The middle-of-the-road is the likeliest place to get passed by or taken out. It’s time to take yourself seriously. You’re never gonna fake brand relevance; it’s not cheap or easy; it can’t be copied or bought. Brand relevance is an earned honor of distinction bestowed upon companies committed to knowing who they are, what they do, why they do it, and why anyone should care. It’s going to take meaningful solutions, genuine connections, designed experiences, and inspired messages that you keep on bringing on for the long haul.(2)

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