Watch out! Why bland is bad for brands
I was flicking through a glossy lifestyle magazine that accompanies one of the well-known dailies yesterday during my lunch break. And it struck me – like a sledgehammer – that there were no fewer than ten full-page advertisements for watch brands.
Eight of them were aesthetically pleasing but immediately forgettable. Forgettable branding, forgettable product.
The other two advertisements stood out: one for good reason, and one simply because it was nigh on identical to an advertisement that I had seen previously for a competitor brand. It featured a different starlet yet they bore a strikingly similar appearance (replete with mandatory airbrushing) to each other. This, combined with a comparably nondescript, soft-hued background, meant that I was struck only by its lack of originality.
Most watch advertisements in these magazines are beautiful, chic and elegant in their visual execution. However, too many rely on a combination of ‘safe’ imagery and brand ambassadors to sell their product. Think handsome man with a chiselled jaw and nice suit or glamorous actress with soft features and porcelain skin. The ability to look blank is non-negotiable.
I’d like to think I represent a fairly typical consumer. However, I don’t recall which celebrity represents each brand or aspire to buy a watch because someone famous supposedly wears one. Neither does anyone I know. I’m going to put it out there that using a brand ambassador is an ‘easy’ option for many consumer products, but one that is not particularly effective (unless it’s Michael Jordan selling Air Jordans or Tiger Woods pre-you know what).
So let me come back to the remaining advertisement.
It featured no brand ambassador, nor was the product obviously unique (although nice, it actually looked much like the others). But the company had put effort into differentiating this brand through its advertisement’s blend of copy and design. The result: a distinctive brand proposition. Now, this is a watch I would consider buying.
Does your brand blend into the crowd or have you forged your own path to your target audience? I know which strategy I’d rather (and so does Richard Branson, going by the latest Virgin America safety demonstration for passengers http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z1A5BtqsaPM – I’ve already booked my ticket).
For more of our thoughts on branding, try:
- Six branding lessons from Click Frenzy
- Brand power: why investing in the irrational is entirely rational