By encouraging sellers through the FP treasury system, merchandising report and the labs to create items that fit themes and styles that help brand Etsy I believe is detrimental to the individual shops that participate. In following this advice these shops actually LOOSE any kind of individual identity or branding in their business.
I've read many blogs posts and articles by Etsy that stress the importance of standing out and being unique in your brand. When someone sees your item on the web they think, "oh thats ......." They obviously understand the power of visual marketing. So there is a contradiction in what Etsy teaches and what it encourages and supports.
I've been here long enough to see shops made by Etsy and crippeled by Etsy once a trend passes. This system does not empower the handmade buisness. It may give it a boost for some time but when the exposure ends what does the shop have to fall back on? What is the point in giving a handmade business false or limited hopes in being successful? Immediate and grand exposure on Etsy's front page is fleeting at best.
Etsy shouldn't be telling us how to brand their site...we should be telling Etsy how to brand us. If they truly want to enable handmade business's the later should be the mind think.