Beau Fraser of The Gate was kind enough to point me to a couple of thought pieces on his website. One in particular, Watch Out, Here Comes Brand Commoditization argues that brands are starting to look and sound a lot like each other. Why?
"Legions of account planners have dug into user psychology and have found big emotional issues to attach to their brands. Unfortunately, they've all found, at the bottom of those deep wells, the same big issues. Room, at first, for a few brands to claim their own emotional space. But the demands for growth, and the hunger to feed the bottom line rather than invest, have not abated. And so marketers have again found the same easy recourse: copy each other. Now instead of blending features, we have products that blend emotions... It's no wonder that ad recall scores are off, direct response rates are declining and web banner click-through rates are dropping like stones. If we all use the same big cartoon emotions we can't help but all feel the same. Why should consumers pay attention if there is no difference? So here we are, an industry whose best tool is now its undoing. We have product commoditization and brand commoditization."
Interesting idea. How many brands can you think of that stand for the same things? Too many—beer, restaurants, airlines, I could go on. How many brands own a truly unique brand story? Some. But not most.
I don't know if Beau and the others at The Gate have the answers. But they are asking a few of the right questions. Read the thought pieces for yourself here, click on USA, then Gateism 7.