Different Strokes for Different Folks

Different Strokes for Different Folks

Marketing has changed over the past 20 years. As a graphic designer back-in-the-day, most of my clients wanted to emulate IBM. They would acronym-ize their name, making it easy for their key stakeholders to understand and approve. They would rely on cliché creative levers, such as “your key to success”. We would smile and nod, adding process blue, yet again, to a brand. In spite of our best designs being tossed aside by our clients, we do our best to make graduated lines ‘new’.

And then there’s the ‘swirl’ (pssst…aka: “Swoosh”—which I can’t mention because it’s so heavily trade-marked). Our team’s well-trained creative teams should have won awards for “grinning and bearing”.

Swooshes Example 1

Swooshes Example 2

Swooshes Example 3

What a relief it was for us all when Google broke ground with a unique and memorable name and refreshing brand strategy. Today, other groups are breaking through although it’s been a much slower evolution that some of us would have expected.

As branding specialists, we’ve always known the reliance on cliché’s, uninspiring names and lemming-marketing tactics are counter-productive to marketing. The whole point is to stand out from the crowd.

Why is it so difficult for some companies to put ‘being different’ into practice? Could it be that some organization’s leadership are conflicted between wanting to be accepted within their sphere of influence and standing out? Are they scared of being shunned if they stand apart? Or is it they don’t really know what standing out looks like? Do they have difficulty trusting their creative team to position them appropriately within their marketplace?

What do you think?