I swear I’m not a rice-ist, but, white rice is extremely fucking boring.

It’s one of those foods whose most remarkable feature is how completely unremarkable it is, rubbing shoulders with the likes of school canteen mashed potatoes and supermarket-value white bread.

But rice in particular takes a lot of effort to be so bland. Not that I’ve counted—and I’d rather get a prostate exam from Dr. Scissorhands than try—but a standard breakfast bowl of cooked rice can contain up to 8,000 individual grains (allegedly). 8,000 individuals so uninteresting they all blend into one big Borg of bleh.

Bland brand syndrome

And that happens with brands too. Because, too often, brands don’t define themselves in terms of the things that make them stand out – they champion things that make them blend in. Boring things. Things that they have in common with all the brands around them.

I can’t count how many brands I’ve worked with that have come to me with ‘white rice’ values. Not necessarily untrue to who they are, but also not attributes that give their brand any discernible shape, form or point of view. It’s like reading television static committed to paper. Here’s three in particular that I see a lot, that leave precisely zero taste in the mouth:


This one kinda goes without saying, seeing as there’s a whole raft of consumer protection legislation outlawing deceptive and misleading business practices. It’s the same reason that you don’t need to have NON-MURDEROUS as one of your values — people generally take it as a given that you observe your legal obligations. Unless you’re an oil company, obviously.


Again, general rule of thumb, people expect businesses to care about their work considering they’re literally invested in it. You’d have to have an atrocious sense of humour to set up a business for the sheer craic of it. That being said, it’d still be funnier than Mrs Brown’s Boys.


Businesses are customer-centric in the same way plants are water-centric. Any brand that doesn’t have an ongoing interest in acquiring and preserving customers will wither, shrivel up and die.

Chances are, if any of the above words appear in your brand values, you’re focusing on the wrong things to set yourself apart in the market.

Some food for thought

Just for contrast, and to clear away the bleh taste of that pilau pile-up, take a look at Ben & Jerry’s.

All of the above values are probably true of Ben & Jerry’s, right? Almost certainly also true of their competitors. But what Ben & Jerry’s are really well-known for is their activism. They’re the ice cream of choice for socially conscientious midnight freezer bandits – and their values reflect that:

black and white photo of the founders of Ben and Jerry's with a crowd of people behind them and ben and jerrys logo on top

No bland platitudes about integrity or respect. No low-cal options like ‘ambitious’ or ‘bold’. Not a grain of rice in sight. Just full-fat flavours that underpin their brand’s USP.

If you’ve read this far and you’re scratching your chin wondering whether your brand is more basmati than knickerbocker glory – get in touch. Let’s talk about what we can do to really get your customers salivating (in a non-gross way).

Need a hand differentiating your brand? Let’s chat

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