Why Timeless Design Can Hurt Your Brand


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Timeless design. How I love to hate you and hate to love you. If you’ve been following me on Instagram (if not you, should), you know I’ve been doing this “weekly brew” where I discuss one topic for a week. This week is all about timeless design. Here is the link to my first post of the series.

Where do I even start. The beginning would probably be the best place to start, do we agree?! So, get in l0ser because were about to go shopping. Side note: I’m also a fellow l0ser, so I can say this. This is the best and the most authentic life there is.


When shit hit the fan

Around.. maybe 2016 you started to see more and more business opt-out for timeless design. What happened is that one person did it first, then another person saw it and thought “OMG PRETTY” and then they did it, and then another person saw it and went “MY GOLLY THIS IS THE HAY FOR THE COWS” aaaaaaaaaaand you know what happened next. It’s like we’re all just tons of Domino’s following each others steps.

Why does this happen? People have wants and they have needs. When one, two, three, four, five people decided to go with timeless design for their brands, you started to see it more and more. And humans have a need to fit in. We want to be like others. We, as humans, have a need to belong. And when we see others doing timeless design for their brands, we assume it’s what we need to be doing. And you feel the need to do it because you want to belong. You want to fit in. “If others are doign it, there must be something there.” You think.


And what happened with timeless design?

Now you see everyone and their mother’s, grandma’s, kids, aunts, etc. doing timeless branding. All because we see others doing it and we just want to belong and be one with the masses. I have nothing agains timeless design. I want to add here. I’m just stating the facts. You might feel like you’re lost in the crowd and no one is really seeing you, or you have a hard time attracting your target audience, and good change is that you’re correct. When you look at this in the view of a possible client, things get a perspective.

Let’s say you do marketing, this possible client found you on Instagram, they like your stuff, they search for another person who also does marketing, Because we all love to shop around and compare different personalities and people. That is another thing, we shop people, we don’t shop what you sell as much. But that is a topic for another day. Anywho, they look at your stuff, go to competition and you both have a timeless brand. She searches for another person, and ba-bam. Timeless brand.

What happens next is that this possible client will feel a bit confused and might go back and forth about how to sign up with. All the brands look the same. What they will most likely do is try to find something that makes you different from competiton A and competition B. But it will be hard because you guys all look the same.

Now whereas, if you’d have a brand that was NOT timeless, you’d stand the F out. The choice would be made a lot more clear to this person because they see you in a whole new way than your competition. You’re more bold, you have different graphics, which automatically pulls these people in. The point is that it’s really hard for you to stand out if your competition and you both have a timeless brand. Why not to stand out more and make an impression with your dream soon-to-be client?


People look for brands they can behind with, brands that are bold and have a stance

When people look for businesses/brands to work with, they’re looking for who stands out, what they stand for and if you can relate to them. Which means, with timeless design it might be hard to convey that you’re that bold brand for them. Why? Because in order to be an industry leader, you need to be bold. You need to be the Oatly in the world of non-dairy milks. While all the other brands melt together in a pot, you’re the one who stands out.

If you do it right, you have graphics that speak, colors that pull, attitude that attracts and values that people can get behind of. This is exactly how you develop a killer brand. A brand that people rave about and you get better customer retention.


Timeless and non timeless design comparison

Let’s talk about a sustainable and ethical brand, like Oatly. They don’t give an F about what others think about them. They’re here to make a mark. We can look at a brand like Silk next to Oatly. One of them happens to be all about timeless design and the other… we’ll you can see down below.


oatly carton design

Here we can clearly see that Silk is a very timeless brand. When we look to the right and compare it to the Oatly milk carton, we can also see that Oatly is way more out there. They’re way more personalized and speaking directly to you.

Which one captures your eyes more if you saw these on the self? It’s probably Oatly because they differ from the selection so much. Most brands are and look like Silk. Whereas Oatly chose to go the opposite direction and have loud fonts, loud graphics and a very loud brand identity. Silk is very “meh” next to Oatly on the shelf.

Not only are they “meh” but when you start to read the packaging, you can see that Oatly stands for certain things. Like being more sustainable to save the planet earth. It’s their mission. When you look at Silk, you just see a product. They don’t have something emotional for people to get behind.

And this is why Oatly is taking over the markets right now. Granted, these are two completely different products. Oat milk and almond milk. But it could be the same product, I doubt Silk or Oatly would change their packaging either way.


“People want to work with brands that are paving the way for something new and exciting.”


So there is that! I hope you enjoyed learning more about why timeless design is like the vanilla of the branding industry (no shade to vanilla because I EFFING LOVE VANILLA MMM KAY?!). If you truly want to stand out, you need to have a strong brand identity and do the opposite of what your peers are doing. If you’re still confused and would love to know more about branding, give this blog post a read. It will explain what branding is, to you. And also sign up for my newsletter while you’re at it if you want weekly branding tips!


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Think of me as your brand therapist, minus the couch and awkward silences. I help you get crystal clear on your message, attract your dream clients, and build a brand that feels like a perfect fit (and makes your competition sweat a little). 

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Ever feel like every brand strategist sounds the same? Spouting the same empty promises about "visibility" and "authenticity"? Yawn. If you're sick of being just another face in the crowd, ready for a brand that makes you stand out, leads to massive brand growth, and attracts your dream clients like a magnet, stick around. This ain't your mama's branding rodeo.


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