Brands set in harmony and simplicity can afford to go ‘bland’

By our News Team | 2022

Brands like Google, Uber, Microsoft and Airbnb don’t try to disrupt or stand out from the crowd, because they are already outside of it.

Why would any organisation want to engage in bland advertising? Surely it’s an oxymoron and the antithesis of what marketers think advertising is all about?

Not so, says Dashni Vilakazi, Managing Director for the Johannesburg office of The MediaShop, an Africa-focused media and marketing agency. She believes that heritage brands, or brands with long longevity, have already done the hard work.

Bland Advertising

Photo Open Grid Scheduler via Wikimedia Commons

“Let’s be honest, to consumers brands are all the same, only differing in how they answer a specific need or want at any given time,” Vilakazi argues in a blog post.

“Traditionally, branding has been about differentiating [and] standing out from the crowd. But by the sheer enormous number of brands out there, it seems as if they’re stepping over each other, desperately trying to impress. Conversely, those that are focused on their customers are winning at ‘blanding’ and retaining, and even growing, their market share.”

According to Vilakazi, brands like Google, Uber, Microsoft and Airbnb have brand identities that are set in harmony and simplicity. They don’t run massive campaigns trying to disrupt or stand out from the crowd, because they are already outside of it. Rather, they resonate with effectiveness and efficiency, focusing instead on their brand promises, customers and sustainability.

Some are loud and some are modest

“Brands have often been likened to people – they can be loud, modest, proud or understated,” she says.

“Those that are currently succeeding can be likened to the quiet guy in the corner of the party. They’re focused on building their business, creating products that are sustainable, empowering their supply chains and, most importantly, ensuring excellent customer service and passing great deals onto the consumer. They are the blanding champions.”

Marketers and brands are realising that the customer must come first and that they have a responsibility to the environment they operate in. Brands are not created in a vacuum – they evolve and are typically crafted by their strengths and weaknesses. Do you believe brands when they tell you how different they are to their competitors, or do you believe brands that stand out more by their actions? This is how we differentiate the branding from the blanding, Vilakazi states.

“I think the sector that does blanding well are the tech companies, which seem to be intentionally blanding. They have strong identities and visual language for sure, but they live and breathe their products. Their strength is in their consistency, in their behaviours, actions and service to their customers.

“As a marketer I’d challenge my clients by asking these questions: what is your USP, why do you need to stand out, and will you do that through your logo or through your actions? Brands that are succeeding and getting ahead have already reached their adulthood or their developed stages, now is the time to consolidate and focus on your core business.”

Dr Kin Kariisa

Group CEO - Next Media

Dr. Kin Kariisa is an extraordinary force at the helm of Next Media Services, a conglomerate encompassing NBS TV, Nile Post, Sanyuka TV, Next Radio, Salam TV, Next Communication, Next Productions, and an array of other influential enterprises. His dynamic role as Chief Executive Officer exemplifies his unwavering commitment to shaping media, business, and community landscapes.
With an esteemed academic journey, Dr. Kariisa’s accolades include an Honorary PhD in exemplary community service from the United Graduate College inTexas, an MBA from United States International University in Nairobi, Kenya, a Master’s degree in Computer Engineering from Huazong University in China, and a Bachelor’s degree in Statistics from Makerere University.
Dr. Kariisa pursued PhD research in Computer Security and Identity Management at Security of Systems Group, Radboud University in Nijmegen, Netherlands. As a dynamic educator, he has shared his expertise as a lecturer of e-Government and Information Security at both Makerere University and Radboud University.

Dr Kin did his PhD research in Computer Security and Identity Management at Security of Systems Group, Radbond University in Nigmegen, Netherlands. He previously served as a lecturer of e-Government and Information Security at Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda and Radbond University in Netherlands.

Dr Kin did his postgraduate courses in Strategic Business Management, Strategic Leadership Communication and Strategies for Leading Successful Change Initiatives at Harvard University, Boston USA.

  • Other current and previous roles played by Dr Kin Kariisa:
  • Lecturer of e-Government and Information Security to graduate students at Makerere University, Kampala and Radbond University in the Netherlands
  • Director of Eco Bank Uganda Limited, one of the largest banks in Africa
  • Chairman of the National Association of Broadcasters, an umbrella industry association for all Television, Radio and online broadcasters in Uganda.
  • Chairman of Board of Directors of Nile Hotel International, that owns the leading hotel in Uganda, Kampala Serena Hotel.
  • Chairman of Board of Directors of Soliton Telmec Uganda, the leading telecom company in Optic fibre business managing over 80% of optic fibre in Uganda.