‘Less is more’ advertising in an era of information overload…what we’ve been reading this week at Brand Genetics

Today, those responsible for advertising and pack design have found themselves playing a game of ‘he who shouts the loudest be heard first’. Lurid colour schemes, provocative taglines and dynamic pricing have become commonplace as brands wrestle to stand out from the crowd. However, there are now a handful of brands swimming against this current in pursuit of something more meaningful.

It would be easy to assume that this is just another example of a ‘megabrand’ seeking to learn from the successes of disruptive start-ups that have capitalised on a burgeoning movement towards more minimalist design — but this is simply not the case!

Instead, having created an identity synonymous with their product, these big players are abandoning the very thing that made them iconic. Fearlessly reinventing their image has allowed them to cut through the noise, while also taking a stand on the social issues they feel they have the platform to influence.

But with consumers starting to tire of superficial attempts to create an altruistic appearance, how do brands create a purposeful message that is heard out in the world? And how do they do they do in a way that drives real action?

Here are just a few examples that we feel start to answer this question…

You say it best, when you say nothing at all

With 1.4 million older people struggling with loneliness, and 225,000 going a whole week without speaking to anyone, FMCG extraordinaire Mondelēz have made a bold advertising move to raise awareness on the issue.

In a bid to combat this loneliness epidemic, the iconic Cadbury’s Dairy Milk will feature nothing but its traditional purple colour and its distinguished glass and a half logo.

The limited-edition bar will be sold in supermarkets nationwide, with 30p from each bar going towards Age UK to help provide vital services and support when older people need it most. And with this packaging reimagination, Cadbury hopes to encourage Brits to “donate their words” by pledging to reach out and have a chat with older people in their communities.

Famous brands including Heinz, Marmite and Levis also produced limited editions of their products with no brand names for Selfridge’s ground-breaking ‘Quiet Shop’, which attempted to challenge the information overload faced by people today.

However, Cadbury’s example not only demonstrates the power of simplistic and powerful pack design, but also reinforces the confidence they have in the brand strength they have managed to create. Why not use this influence for a higher purpose?

Only one rainbow matters

Much of Skittles’ advertising is built around their rainbow profile. But to honour the LGBT pride celebrations in London in 2019, the brand stripped off its colours.

With the brand keen for the LGBTQ+ community to be directly involved, they decided to collaborate with artists who identify as part of the community to create original, limited-edition designs, symbolically handing over the pack space and giving them a potent platform on which to communicate their thoughts and feelings about Pride.

According to Wrigley, all proceeds generated by the campaign will benefit LGBTQ+ charities… Who would have thought candy could clear the colourway with such ease?

I’m nothing without you

To stress the importance of Aussie farmers to their consumers, there’s something missing from Kellogg’s cereals in their recent ads. The brand launched a series of print ads showing packs that are missing their essential ingredients — much to the dismay of their well-known characters!

As they seek to open consumer’s eyes to the plight of their nation’s drought-stricken farmers, their reimagination of the brand’s traditional pack design is the epitome of a ‘less is more’ philosophy.

Championing those at the very heart of their product demonstrates a brand that not only understands their suppliers but are in tune with the values and priorities of their consumers. With an increasing desire for greater transparency around origin and provenance of products, Kellogg’s have not only showed them, but they have raised awareness for the perils they’re facing.

Where politicians failed, brands are succeeding.

The HX Learnings?

In a world where people wrongly assume that “bigger”, “brighter” and “bolder” ladder up to “better”, it is inspiring to see brands still understand the power of simplicity and clarity in communicating a purposeful message.

Beyond this, an ability to utilise brand strength as a means of increasing consciousness, building communities of change agents, or simply ‘showing the love’ is to be admired and applauded. Especially with it now so hard to get yourself heard.

Sometimes less really is more!

Simon Hall is a consultant at Brand Genetics, an insight and innovation agency specialising in human-centred insight and innovation. With a background in reinventing big businesses at pace, he has experience in creative problem solving, thought leadership and reframing human insight and has worked in strategy, leadership and change across business sectors

Human-Centered Insight, Innovation and Trends from Brand Genetics www.brandgenetics.com

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