Features Craft Opinion
Turning bland into brilliance

February 19, 2024  By John Blyth

In a rapidly evolving landscape, people are drawn to experiences that satisfy their desire for uniqueness.

While familiarity can be comforting it breeds complacency and diminishes excitement. In fact consultancy Accenture reports a YouGov survey found that 45 per cent of global respondents find shopping experiences dull. Accenture’s own Life Trends 2024 survey reported 35 per cent of respondents consider app designs to be indistinguishable across brands, with the sentiment rising to nearly 40 per cent among 18 to 24 year olds.

Customers yearn for the thrill of newness. In response brands should respond with a mix of familiarity and innovation. Whether in the form of cutting-edge products, immersive campaigns, or unexpected collaborations, novelty delivers sustained interest and emotional connection.


Generative AI is increasingly being deployed in creative processes to strive for new ways to be seen. But there is the danger that this novel approach quickly becomes commonplace. It could then become more difficult to stand out, as competition for attention increases due to the volume of content being created. On the other hand, differentiation could become easier because, as organizations lean heavily on generative AI, human creativity could set others apart.

Where there’s a void of novelty, there’s opportunity – in a sea of familiarity, originality truly stands out. This is true for all forms of communication.

Creativity can be expensive, but the investment usually pays off in the richness of the quality of results. Accenture makes these recommendations:

  • Make friends with risk – rather than sacrifice quality for speed, reintroduce craft, creativity, fun, and attention to detail.
  • Break the technology templates – to avoid bland, recycled, templated design content, skilled creatives should be involved in the use of generative AI to deliver something truly creative that breaks through.
  • Know thyself – a deep understanding of the brand’s identity and culture makes it possible to take creative risks and to focus on the right metrics.

Employing fresh ways to differentiate is a key challenge for businesses and one that print can help meet.

Industry leaders such as Peter Field, Tyler Brûlé and Sonoo Singh agree. They applaud the effectiveness of print in capturing attention in advertising. Kevin Longhurst of IPG media company Magna adds that whether through direct mail, newspaper adverts, catalogues, magazines, or door drops, print media consistently proves its power to enhance other channels. There is a very good reason why digital giants like Amazon, Disney and Netflix include print advertising in their media mix.

Print can also drive up client engagement (79 per cent of mail is read) and prompt a commercial action (41 per cent) as discussed here. Digital print supports the creation of targeted content that is delivered to a pre-determined select group. Action can be encouraged by QR codes that also aid accurate measurability with for example UTM tracking codes, which can be used to report KPIs, or power seamless collaboration of physical and online channels.

Unleashing a more imaginative approach doesn’t have to be expensive or time consuming. Attention grabbing and attention holding communications can be curated to hit the mark and drive interaction. Discover how you can transform the bland into brilliance to enthral and captivate.

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