The Pitfalls of Being Edgy

Is Edgy branding good or bad?



At the forefront of a trend; experimental or avant-garde.

“I want my brand to be…edgier. Do you all do that?” This is a common refrain heard from brands looking to upgrade their current look. As Millennials and the older half of Generation Z gain more and more purchasing power, brands are scrambling to be “cooler” and “edgier.” And while updating the appearance of your brand can be a good idea–going from So-So to Edge Lord is a path wrought with pitfalls and, if not done well, can hurt your brand instead of help it. 


The Dangers of Being Edgy

If you’re Urban Outfitters or Paper magazine–you’re edgy and that’s what is not only expected but demanded of your brand. But if you’re not? You could damage your brand, your business, and your bottom line with a look and feel that isn’t authentic and alienates your customers and prospects. While upgrading and repositioning your brand can be the right move, making sure you’re being thoughtful about the next steps could mean the difference between success and failure.

Let’s explore the main things people don’t think enough about when endeavoring to make their brand edgy.

Trends don’t last


\’ trend

A : a prevailing tendency or inclination: DRIFT

B : a general movement: SWING

C : a current style or preference: VOGUE

Trends are fads–things that rise quickly in popularity and then fall off the map just as fast. The words “drift” and “swing” are evocative of a movement with a constantly changing direction. Not something you really want your branding to embody (unless you sell pendulums or baseball bats–then swing away!).

Basing your brand on a trend may ensure an uptick in traffic and conversions while the trend is hot but how long will that last? Once the trend fades you have two options:

  1. Spend more money on another brand update
  2. Keep the outdated branding and risk fading into obscurity

Does that mean you can’t cash in on trends? HECK NO! You can use social media or limited time products and services to capitalize on trends without compromising your overall brand. There are ways to be trendy that allow you to swift and drift with the times while letting the foundation of your brand remain constant.

Experimental doesn’t equal stable

Experimental is for science and college dorm rooms but, most likely, not for your brand. If your brand is built to adapt then edgy can work to your advantage, but if you’re selling a product that provides a specific service or need, your brand’s experimental look may betray your experience and stability. Being TOO edgy can mean you look new, callow, young, inexperienced–whatever adjective you need. There’s an irreverence that comes with an edge that can quickly devolve into immaturity if not done correctly…and most of the time it’s not done correctly.

Can you still be experimental with your brand and succeed? YES, you totally can. We recommend trying out your experimental branding and ideas on landing pages–you can use A/B or multivariate testing to see how audiences respond to your new branding and voice. Do you see more conversions or fewer? Does your bounce rate increase or do your clicks increase? Using landing pages to experiment is an awesome and safer way to give your new edge a test drive before releasing it into the world.

You’re not edgy

I say this as your friend…but you’re probably not edgy–and that’s OK. Just because you’re not avant-garde doesn’t mean your brand can’t be fun, modern, and interesting. In fact, you can still be all of those things! The real trick is to know who your brand is and who LOVES your brand. The worst thing a brand can do is do such an abrupt about-face that it alienates their fans, followers, and brand ambassadors.

SO, think about the things you are, the things people love about your brand and the things you want your brand to be. At the intersection of this Venn diagram will be some new ideas of places you can take your brand that you’re not currently doing.

Edgy Updates That Make Sense

We’ve already given you a few ideas on how to tread the edge of edgy without falling into the precipice. But we checked in with one of our designers and trendsetters, Daniel, to get his thoughts on things you can do to edge up your brand. Here are his tips, let’s call them Cool Dan Tips.

Cool Dan

This is Cool Dan. You know he’s cool because he has vintage motorcycles and a smoldering gaze.

Cool Dan Tips

  1. Limit your typefaces.
    “Limiting the number of typefaces used to a single family with different weights, such as a large sans serif family.”
    Translation: A lot of fonts looked cluttered and crazy. Modern brands keep it slim and simple.
  2. Keep It Simple, Silly
    “Simplify graphic elements. Ex: taking 3d looking elements and making them flat and using the brand accent colors of a gradients overlay.”Translation: Get rid of overly detailed images and keep things clean and simple–that type of design will make your brand look more sophisticated. 
  3. Think about your target markets.
    “What it really comes down to though is what the company really needs to drive their target markets to desired company results. A company needs to think hard before overhauling, and should really think “will this benefit my current customers and still let me get more. It’s a push and pull between company and market.” Translation: Design and marketing should work together! If you don’t have your Buyer Personas ready or up to date, get those done and make sure both your Design and Marketing team agree on them.

…and if Cool Dan says it, it’s pretty cool.

Here are the lessons we’ve learned today:

  1. You CAN be edgy if it makes sense for your brand!
  2. You CAN update and modernize your brand with a few simple tweaks.
  3. You CAN test drive your new edge with landing pages and experimentation.
  4. Cool Dan is cool. If you see him, though, don’t call him Dan, he prefers Daniel.