Is Your Brand Risking Genericide?

A word of caution to following design and style trends, especially within your industry.


It’s not about a pretty logo. It’s all about being unique among your competition and conveying your message. For those of us who follow design trends, we’ve noticed a few within the photography community. Individually, many of the logos are beautiful, artful even. Thrown into a pile of other photographers, all those pretty designs start to run together. They become forgetful.

How is your potential client going to remember to call you if you blend in with the other photographers (insurance agents, real estate agents, direct sales, etc.)?

Ugh! That’s so depressing to imagine your lovely logo not doing any work for you.There’s a term for brands that get destroyed by their own success—genericide. Kleenex and Bandaid are perhaps the greatest examples. Kleenex is a brand of facial tissues. Thanks to its own popularity, the name Kleenex became a noun rather than an adjective. “Hand me a Kleenex.” Bandaid faced the same problem and in the 1990s began a messaging campaign to remind people that the Bandaid brand is THE Bandaid, not just any old adhesive bandage. The added “Bandaid brand” to their message content.I contend that we do the same to our [respective] industry and each other, when we follow one particular trend.

Adopting a trend early-on or starting one is great. However, the minute it becomes a trend of the masses is the minute to buck that trend!Let me discuss a few of the trends that are contributing to genericide for the photography industry. Creative Bloq predicted that calligraphy and hand lettering would “blossom in 2016.” They underestimated and were a bit late to the game with that prediction. Calligraphy, a.k.a. hand lettering, exploded by mid-year of 2015. By 2016, it dominated and continues to dominate the photography industry logos from the brand new to redesigned.

Like other font classifications, there are some really well-made fonts and some poorly executed ones. The well-made fonts combine whimsy, personalization, and elegance in one. Those three words sound pretty ideal together, which is no wonder wedding photographers and newborn photographers have pounced on this trend. These hand-drawn logo types allow for actual signatures or signature-like logo type—how much more personal can you get than your own signature!There are a few problems.

  1. If everyone is doing it, how can your signature standout among 1,000 other signatures?

  2. Most hand lettered logo types are written in the same style for the first and the last name.

  3. Cursive writing and the ability to read it is decreasing. You have to be smart about the style of cursive writing with this in mind.

  4. Free fonts are free. If they are free, anyone and everyone can and will access and use the same free fonts.

Hand lettering is not the only trend (watercolor is another), but it is the one that’s killing photography brands the most right now. So, you love your hand lettered logo. I get it. We all love what we create ourselves, which is why I get my clients involved with the logo development as much as they can tolerate. The more ownership they have, the more they’ll love it. But, something’s gotta give here.


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03 Jan 2017

By Rhonda Negard