Keep It Simple, Make People Happy

Simple is hard to achieve. And when simple is achieved, it is not always appreciated for its elegance and beauty.

When it comes to brands and their myriad communications and offers, simple is also pretty rare. One reason for this is the number of people — many with strongly held convictions — that touch any given brand communications project. At Bonehook, we keep the teams small, but I’ve worked on projects in the past where two dozen or more people are involved. That’s not necessarily bad, it’s just tough to stay on point and reach consensus, without a ruthless or angelic leader on the job.

Steve Jobs may have been both. One thing is for certain, the products Apple brings to market are endowed with complexity, but from a user experience point of view, everything from the packaging to the interfaces are clean and simple. Not surprisingly, Apple ranked in the top ten for simplicity in a recent survey from global strategic branding firm Siegel+Gale.

According to Marketing Daily, the 6000 people surveyed do in fact appreciate simple. And Howard Belk, CEO and chief creative officer at Siegel+Gale, says that the results of his firm’s Global Brand Simplicity Index™ are not an idle exercise in semantics, as brands with a high simplicity score also enjoy strong revenue and stock performance.

He adds, “One of the findings year after year is that people equate complexity with lack of trustworthiness.” Interestingly, Facebook and social media as a category ranked poorly in the survey. Another category hurting for simplicity is travel, and insurance, banking, utilities and telecommunications, not surprisingly, are well down the list. On the other hand, internet search companies and quick service restaurants rank high for simplicity.

This is an area where I feel I might do well to take my own advise. People ask me what I do all the time. The simple answer is I am a writer. But that’s a simple line that rarely satisfies, because it fails to explain how I make a living (thanks to the built-in assumption that writers are hobbyists or starving, or both). Ergo, I have to add this gem: I work in advertising. Sadly, this additional answer also leads people to wrong conclusions. So, I say I run a brand studio with a specialty in content marketing.

What was I saying above about simple being hard to achieve?

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