In this thorough and historically grounded analysis of “sameness” in design (a write-up of a conference talk), Thomas Byttebier discusses various aspects of why a lot of things look alike, what might be problematic aspects of that, but also the undeniable benefits of widely accepted design patterns.
As much as sameness in digital is real, it shouldn’t be too much of a problem. Standardization of interfaces does bring clear consumer advantages. On top of that, digital has brought brands an extremely rich means of expression. This goes way beyond the interface. Brands should take full advantage of this by creating memorable digital experiences. A powerful way to reach memorability is by evoking feelings.