At the Fashion Lab Brand identity, Thierry Brunfaut and Thomas Byttebier, respectively creative director and digital director of Base Design, spoke about 'blanding' and 'sameness', about why brands are increasingly looking the same. What is (not) good about that? In addition, Jasmijn Verlinden, marketing manager of jewelry brand Wouters & Hendrix, talked about how the story of the brand translates itself into a strong brand identity and approach. You can watch their full presentations here.

1. About 'blanding' and expressive brand identities

Nowadays, brands often use the same style elements in their identity:

What is blanding?

According to Thierry, there are three reasons. There is the Pinterest effect, the 'I want to be' effect and the teenager effect. He explains this phenomenon on the basis of various examples:

Why is there blanding?

Branding wants to make things sell, but brands also need to be distinctive. Today this is rather complex within the omnichannel marketing. The brand story must ensure that it forms a whole:

What is the purpose of branding?

In this part, Thierry shows four projects from the Base portfolio: work for The New York Times, Institut de la Mode, Mitsulift and Studio Brussels:

How do you create an expressive brand?

Watch the full presentation of Thierry Brunfaut here.


2. About 'sameness' and stimulating feelings

Everything is starting to look the same at the digital level too. Websites and apps use the same type of navigation, avatars, icons,...:

What is sameness?

Websites and apps have a complex structure and information that must be displayed in a user-friendly manner. Thomas makes the comparison with the design of the subway map. Good ideas are spreading while globalization creates expectations:

A nuanced story

From the consumer's point of view, it is good that brands look the same on some levels. For example, interfaces, signage and navigation systems and subway maps are always designed in the same way to guarantee sufficient user-friendliness for the user:

The paradox of equal versus different

At the digital level, you can differentiate with the content that you offer. This is possible through storytelling, participation and interaction. In this way a unique brand experience is created. Thomas explains this on the basis of various examples:

How can we design digitally and stimulate feelings?

Watch the full Thomas Byttebier presentation here.


3. The case of Wouters & Hendrix

How did Wouters & Hendrix come about and how does the jewelry brand characterize itself? Jasmijn tells about the background and DNA of the brand:

The background and DNA of Wouters & Hendrix

On the occasion of the 35th anniversary of the brand, it was time for a new, fully developed brand story. Wouters & Hendrix joined forces with Base Design to determine their brand story and to create a toolbox to apply their brand identity in every form of communication:

The brand process with Base Design

The lessons from Wouters & Hendrix:

  • Make sure your team and partners are with you so that they fully immerse the customer in your brand identity.
  • Go for a 360° impact and always check whether you fully extend your brand identity.
  • Always start your story at the beginning and repeat it again and again.
  • Do not lose sight of the larger picture by focusing on details.

The lessons

The DIY's from Wouters & Hendrix:

  • Develop a brandbook and share it with all relevant parties.
  • Make a checklist and go over it with every form of communication.
  • Write a boiler plate and repeat it in all kinds of applications.
  • Break out of your own world and meet with other parties.
  • Always make the trade-off between effort and impact.

The DIY’s

View the full presentation of Jasmijn Verlinden here.

The Room of Wonder II: Wouters & Hendrix expo runs from September 14, 2019 to February 16, 2020 at the DIVA Museum in Antwerp.