The Great Flattening

The Great Flattening
A Rose By Any Other Name…

The Great Flattening

I still think YSL's logo change is a tragedy.

Hi team,

I hope all is well in your world.

A big welcome to our new subscribers: Bettina, Rino, Marbrisa, Annett, Lorena, Azlena, Lisa, Manami, Sundar, Christine, Sara, Ellen, Anjala and Golda. Thank you very much for joining us.

In today's newsletter we will tread a slightly different path to our usual environmental chat. We'll touch on the evolution of branding: specifically looking at a phenomenon that has been described as “the great flattening.”

1962 and 1973 are my favourites. 1898 is just OUT there!

I first came across the above YSL-Balenciaga-Burberry et al. image several months ago on LinkedIn. It then popped up again in my inbox last week with this great article from Alex at Basic Arts (who pens a great weekly newsletter on strategy). Alex, in turn, traces that image back to this guy: David Perell. I highly recommend both articles as they will go into much more detail about brand evolution than I will.

What makes a brand take off?

Branding has been on my mind a lot recently. LUXTRA is a small (but mighty!) brand, so I'm constantly thinking about ways for us to become more visible, to try and “compete” with the big names - whilst staying true to our deep eco and ethical values. Do we do that by playing the game, and conforming to what's familiar to consumers generally? Or do we try to buck the trend, and stand out? Alex has some interesting thoughts on this topic, suggesting:

"The market does indeed respond positively in many cases the flattened / blanded / homogenised products. This is for many hard-to-unpack reasons.

Because of this I don't think we can assume that those luxury brands would do better if they reverted to their prior characterful states.

On the contrary, they probably wouldn't.”

When I think about it. I almost feel sorry for these big brands. They are such followers! Each one seems so scared to stand proud on their heritage. They're scared of being left behind, being different… so they conform.

Like I said - I almost feel sorry for them.


Get out of the way dinosaurs! The ethical brands are coming for you :)

My own feeling is that authenticity is at the heart of this dilemma. Personally, I'm not a very stand-out type of person. Whilst I like to dress colourfully and creatively and can make a few jokes here and there, I'm definitely not the most courageous person on the street. For LUXTRA, trying to stand out and be a vocal, brash, “challenger” brand would not feel right. I'm personally not that punchy! And, for the time being at least, LUXTRA is very much an extension of me and my personality. So going off the tracks and forcing the brand into a mould that's deliberately “out there” would just feel false. And I have no doubt that façade would be instantly see-through-able.

Rebellion & Authenticity

Lightbulb moment.

Tangentially, this makes me think a lot about another of Alex's articles about rebellion, entitled “How to be truly rebellious”. I still remember stopping in my tracks when I saw the above image. I must have spent hours subsequently pondering the nature of rebellion - both people who “rebel” and brands. I'm now always curious, thinking about their backstory and which version of rebellion the person or company adopts.

This is all I have for today: a snippet of my current thoughts on branding and positioning. As you can see, at the moment I have more questions than answers!


I hope that you, too, have found the above images thought-provoking.
As always, I love to hear your thoughts.

Happy Sunday.

Founder | Rebellion Ruminator | Proud B-Corper

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