Recently in the cinema, we were mildly bemused to see one phone ad after another run that were virtually impossible to tell apart. Huawei, Vivo and Oppo all put out ads for their new phone touting a new feature called AI selfie (after 3 ads at least that point did enjoy some recall), and all of them featured beautiful young people socializing and taking selfies with great happiness and satisfaction, shot in gorgeous natural lighting with a poppy soundtrack.

The phones, like the advertising, were virtually indistinguishable in their bland, pretty striving to hit all the correct notes.

It is a strange phenomenon in a day and age where everyone wants to be acknowledged as individuals, yet it seems we are more in a rush to conform than ever before.

Fashion is Korean. Furniture Swedish. Drinks to drink are coffee or bubble tea. Places to go are festivals and speakeasy bars that serve craft beer.  Unicorns on cakes, pool floats, and shower caps. And life should be curated into well-taken photos for sharing.

In fact, this careful curation and sharing on social platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and so on has accelerated the rate in which we are slowly melting into the same people, who like the same things. And the internets are rife with “How-to” videos, just in case you need help to achieve the status quo.

When everything is the same, nothing is special anymore.

Lest this appears to be a cantankerous anti-millennial sort of rant, we’d like to clarify that homogeneity is by no means a terrible bad thing. But sometimes we do long for simpler times where edges didn’t have to match, when nonchalance was not just an act and things could be, heaven forbid, ugly!

But the world has become a much smaller place, and it should really be no surprise that things are looking more and more alike. Because:

We are becoming more alike.
As mobility has increased, globalization has intensified. Taste has become globalized as we cross-pollinate our interests and share our habits and aesthetics. You could argue that the hipster coffee culture was born in Melbourne, but you can certainly find cafes all of the same mould in Kuala Lumpur. It could be a result of knowledge transfer – people who studied in Melbourne come back hoping to bring to life the favourite bits of their experience there. Or it could be an expat making a living by opening shop in downtown KL.

We all want the same things.
When South Korean women are asked why they get plastic surgery, they don’t say that it’s because they want to be pretty. Reasons they provide include happiness, love, confidence and self satisfaction. These feelings are universal. Individuality may be a point of pride, but underneath it all, everyone wants to belong. There’s even a certain sense of relief to find ourselves a participant in a movement or trend, a sense of being accepted and acknowledged.

So what advice do we have for brands who want to stand out in the face of this encroaching sameness? Probably just all the same branding fundamentals – be brave. Be bold. Be true to yourself. And if you must have a unicorn, let it be a unicorn like this one.

Does your brand want to fit in or stand out?

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How would your brand participate in the golden age of the geek?

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