Blanding in Kbeauty
Lauren discusses the issue of blanding in K-Beauty with more brands undergoing complete logo and design transformation in an attempt to modernise. But are they losing their creativity and uniqueness in the process?
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What is Blanding?
- “If branding is about differentiation, then blanding is the exact opposite.”
- Recognisable due to the use of modern and simple products and packaging.
- Logos are often written in thin, san serif lines
Why Are K-Beauty Brands Blanding?
- What you like on Instagram fuels the algorithm, which reinforces your preferences with more related content.
- In this kind of environment it makes sense as a branding strategy for brands to try and align with their peers and existing brands.
- You don't want to stand out from the pack because this can be risky.
- It's also a strategy for reaching new audiences on social.
- Minimalist design aesthetic is shorthand for "clean" in K-beauty
The concept of blanding has a history in fashion as well. The Fashion Law has some great graphics showing the change from brands to blands across the big luxury fashion houses
- Pretty much everything you see trending on apps like Hwahae at the moment - that has a lot to do with this push towards clean, vegan, natural etc
Why Blanding Is Not a Great Idea
- As part of my work I consult with a lot of beauty brand owners, brands looking to manufacture in Korea. Coming up with a brand concept is really important for a lot of them
- For my own brand, Jelly Ko, I really wanted to have a very distinct brand identity that represented how we want consumers to feel when they use our products - playful, nostalgic and spoilt
K-Beauty Brands Who Have Had a Modern Makeover
- In 2023, they've changed their logo to reflect the fact that they are pivoting away from China as their main market
- They've dropped the Chinese characters and have modernised and simplified their packaging as well
- Sulwhasoo's parent company, Amore Pacific, also recently announced that they have signed on a new brand model, Tilda Swinton
- Innisfree's original logo really leant into the brand concept of a clean, fresh green space or natural paradise, which was where the name was taken from
- Like Sulwhasoo, they've also undergone a re-branding exercise in 2023 with a new logo and newer, minimalist packaging.
- The reaction to the new branding and image has been lukewarm on social media across both English and Korean speaking media
- Another Amore Pacific-owned brand that has undergone wholescale change to their brand and concept in recent years
- The brand has changed it's name from Etude House to simply 'Etude'
- Not only have they changed their logo and princess aesthetic but the entire collection looks vastly different than it did in the early 2010s.
- Had very distinctive packaging and a traditional Korean style logo when teh brand first launched. The Dynasty Cream in particular was covered in 'Hanji', Korean style paper
- Changed that recently to reflect their more global audience
- Obviously hasn’t hurt their business so maybe it was the right move
- Half / Half - the newer stuff is very similar to a lot of products on the market
- However, the branding itself was fairly minimal to start with, as the brand really gained traction when the era of mininalism was in full swing
Brands that haven’t blended
Skinfood - still retains the unique brand identity that made it famous
Banila Co - unfortunately their logo was blanded but the products themselves have stayed pretty true to the original brand identity and concept