top of page
  • Writer's pictureVrinda Sehgal

“Blanding” Of Trademarks, The Latest Marketing Trend: Is It Here To Stay?





Introduction


Leonardo da Vinci once said, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication”.[1] When it comes to brands and marketing techniques, there has always been stiff competition to achieve the most recognizable brand image through appealing logos, trademarks and unique color schemes. However, recent trends seem to show a twist in marketing techniques where more and more brands seem to be adopting simpler logos and colors. This rebranding process, known as “blanding” seems to be the latest trend in the marketing industry, being used as a tactic to capture more audience, making brands seem more approachable to a larger consumer base, especially the youth.[2]


The policy seems to be “less is more” nowadays. Many fashion houses, luxury brands and even companies in the tech industry are undergoing the “blanding” process in an attempt to oversimplify their trademarks, to ensure that they “blend in” instead of standing out. The principles behind this shift beg for deliberation since they seem to go beyond all traditional notions of trademarks which are generally designed to act as a unique source identifier. Some may even argue that “blanding” is the antithesis of branding. Some even say that, “It’s the process of creating generic brand identities that follow repetitive trends in the name of modernity, but at the expense of authenticity and differentiation.[3]



Reasons For A Collective Movement


In 2018, the British luxury fashion brand Burberry changed its logo to a softer, rounder font with a bore bold look.[4] Similarly, other high-end fashion brands such as Balenciaga, Saint Laurent, Berluti, Balmain, Rimowa and Calvin Klein have changed their trademarks in recent times and they all seem to have a similar sans serif type font in capital letters. [5] In fact, last month, Salvatore Ferragamo also changed its logo from the unique signature style “Salvatore Ferragamo'' to only “FERRAGAMO” in a bold and simpler font with a red color background. [6]




Therefore, the modern fashion industry has undergone several transformations and at this point in time, there seems to be some comfort in uniformity to an extent. Prevailing trends are followed by many and there seems to be a more formulaic method. Many brands also offer a vast variety of products and therefore, their trademarks have to follow a one-for-all approach, hence explaining their straightforward nature. Some may even say that “blanding” helps brands have “easily transferable super-scalable marks”.[9]


One more conceivable explanation seems to be the broad diversity in advertising platforms. Bold singular colors and simplified fonts, such as sans serif play well across diverse media, including not only bill-boards or magazines but also social media platforms and online. Be it on the big screen or a tablet or mobile phone, such simpler logos seem to attract more attention and are considered easier to depict.


Tech giants such as Apple and Uber are also known for overly simplified, yet capturing logos. Their straightforward and simple nature helps in making their creations seem more usable and professional. When it comes to user interface, perhaps it may be argued that there is more power in simplicity. The mission and vision of most of the applications is also reflected through their logos and if the idea is connectivity and one-ness, one can understand why simple logos will help achieve that purpose better.


It is also noteworthy that not just the tech giants or the fashion industry, even consumer goods companies are resorting to the latest trend. As per some reports, in 2020 Cadbury attempted to make their logo blander since its former Cadbury typography logo was inspired by its hand sign founder, John Cadbury.[10]


Finally, it should be kept in mind that following uniformity, entities seem to follow each other in attempts to copy and keep up with trends. While certain trends may work for some, they may even backfire for others. For instance, In 2019, Firefox, the web browser application introduced a new logo which was criticized as going too far and it was even arguably, it “spawned a wave of memes mocking the trend of oversimplification. The new logo, which removed the fox, was an example of oversimplification going too far.”[11]


“Blanding” In India


Indian entities are not far behind in keeping up with this latest trend. Fashion brands “FABALLEY” and “WROGN” are known for using simple logos.[12] Indian logos seem to have incorporated the “blanding” trend by simplifying their logos but most of them still seem to have a pictorial element as well. [13] For instance, the Indian brand Chubak is a home and lifestyle brand which is known for its colorful designs and patterns on its vast variety of products. In 2020, they changed their logo from a quirky design to a simple serif style typography and pictorial image in black and white.



Even luxury fashion houses in India have opted for simplified typography and logos in black and white. For example, the high end fashion designers Sabyasachi, Anita Dongre and Ritu Kumar have also opted for more identifiable yet simpler logos. ​​Although they have chosen simple fonts, the notable element is also that they have maintained their individual pictorial elements such as the Sabyasachi tiger or Anita Dongre elephant. [16][17]




Legal Considerations For Trademark Holders


Loss of previous trademark rights: Blanding of an existing trademark may lead to loss of trademark rights in the previous logo that was more distinctive in character. Discontinuation and non-use of a trademark may attract non-use cancellations.

The provision of Non Use Cancellation in the Indian Trade Marks Act ensures that registrants continue to use their trademarks in a bona fide manner and trademark squatters who do not intend to use their marks after registration are barred from doing so post the 5 year statutory period. Thus, any person aggrieved by the registration of the mark may apply for its cancellation.


Therefore, brands must be sure before taking the “blanding” decision since it could alter their brand identity forever and in the process may also lead to loss of the earlier trademark which they may not be able to use again in the future.


Garnering goodwill again?: Brands should rethink their “blanding” process from the perspective that they may have to gather new goodwill and reputation in their new logos which the public might not identify with instantly. Time and resources would also need to be categorized in the process of introducing new logos. The “blander” the marks, the more risk there may be of losing distinctiveness. At the same time, brands would also have to ensure that they do not infringe anyone else’s trademark rights and this would also require more resources. time and research.


Doctrine of Tacking: Despite the non-use considerations for trademark holders, the doctrine of “tacking”[18] should also be kept in mind since it allows trademark holders to modify their existing trademarks, keeping their trademark rights intact, including the date of first use for the original mark. However, it is also worth noting that this doctrine only ensures continued protection if modification ‘creates the same continuing commercial impression[19]’ as the original mark. [20] Social media has provided a fast paced platform and shorter memory span. Therefore, tacking through social media platforms may pose potential difficulties as well since the memory span on social media can be virtually diminished at a lightning fast speed. [21]


Protection granted to the word alone?: It has always been an established position under trademark law that “uniqueness strengthens protection.”[22] This latest trend of “blanding” seems to defy traditional notions in that sense. One may argue that “blanding” may eliminate the design or semantic elements that helped historically differentiate a brand in the marketplace.[23] When using simple fonts and color schemes in an attempt to “blend in”, brands risk narrowing the scope of protection for their trademarks and essentially, the only protectable element left then would be the word itself. Lack of distinctive elements narrows the scope of protection granted to such trademark holders.


The “likelihood of confusion” test: When it comes to trademark infringement, the first factor taken into consideration is whether there is a likelihood of confusion in the minds of the public as a result of some similarity between the two marks in question. Once a brand loses a distinctive element in a trademark, it broadens the horizon for more likelihood of confusion. If all marks look the same, it is obvious that the likelihood of confusion would increase. Perhaps over time, the judiciary may have to then reconsider the parameters for this absolutely crucial test of trademark law as a result.


Conclusion


“Blanding” is the latest marketing trend being adopted by various multinational brands and corporations across the world. In this ultrasonic paced economy, this trend may have entered the market at a fast pace, but whether it is here to stay, is a question only time will tell. In keeping up with the trends, many brands are convinced that this will help them gain traction and popularity, especially amongst the youth. For now, trademark holders should be wary of taking the decision to go “bland” because of the long term legal considerations mentioned above as compared to the short term market gains.


Finally, one should also note that while established large multinational brands may be able to undergo the “blanding” process, newer upcoming brands may still find it more difficult to enter the marketplace and garner goodwill and reputation without a distinctive brand identity. Perhaps standing out may once again then be a smarter choice. Historical notions and trademark principles are still embedded in the legal system as well as in the marketplace. Therefore, the judiciary will ultimately face a tussle and resolve the issues that may arise. In the meantime, we look forward to watching this trend and how things unfold.




[1]https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/9010638-simplicity-is-the-ultimate-sophistication-when-once-you-have-tasted [2] https://www.shutterstock.com/blog/blanding-logo-design [3] https://cubicleninjas.com/what-is-blanding/ [4] https://brandsonify.com/blog/case-studies/burberrys-2018-rebrand/ [5]https://www.thezoereport.com/p/luxury-fashion-brands-new-logos-all-look-the-same-but-its-not-a-bad-thing-18228752 [6] https://hypebeast.com/2022/9/salvatore-ferragamo-rebrands-new-logo-launch-peter-saville-info [7] https://1000logos.net/salvatore-ferragamo-logo/ [8]https://designtaxi.com/news/420485/Salvatore-Ferragamo-Unveils-New-Logo-Rebrands-Without-Founder-s-First-Name/ [9]https://www.thefashionlaw.com/blanding-what-is-it-how-did-we-get-here-and-what-does-it-mean-going-forward/ [10] https://praxis.co.id/stories/read/254/Blanding-will-be-the-new-trend-in-branding [11] Firefox’s new logo has more fire, less fox - The Verge [12] Do All Indian Logos Look the Same Now? An Analysis (thehardcopy.co) [13] Do All Indian Logos Look the Same Now? An Analysis (thehardcopy.co) [14]https://brandequity.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/marketing/chumbak-unveils-new-brand-identity/76906604 [15] https://bestmediainfo.com/2020/07/chumbak-changes-logo-as-part-of-larger-shift-in-brand-positioning [16] Do All Indian Logos Look the Same Now? An Analysis (thehardcopy.co) [17] https://thehardcopy.co/do-all-indian-logos-look-the-same/ [18]https://troyandschwartzlaw.com/2015/01/trademark-tacking-is-a-question-of-fact-to-be-determined-by-a-jury/ [19] Jack Wolfson Ausrustung fur Draussen GmbH & Co. KgaA v. New Millennium Sports, S.L.U., 116 USPQ2d 1129 (Fed. Cir. 2015) [20]https://www.thefashionlaw.com/blanding-what-is-it-how-did-we-get-here-and-what-does-it-mean-going-forward/ [21] https://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=7a5ca10d-a772-4d3c-b53c-3a60f40e300b [22] https://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=7a5ca10d-a772-4d3c-b53c-3a60f40e300b [23] https://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=7a5ca10d-a772-4d3c-b53c-3a60f40e300b

댓글 1개


Abdul Rafay
Abdul Rafay
7월 09일

I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.<a href="https://tellmazzios.net/">Continued</a>

좋아요
Featured Posts
Recent Posts
Archive
Search By Tags
Follow Us
  • Facebook Basic Square
  • Twitter Basic Square
  • Google+ Basic Square
bottom of page