02.27.20176 min read

Be a Simple Kind of Brand: Why Less is More in Branding

Less is more—especially in branding.

It’s imperative that your target audiences remember you, particularly when the average person remembers only three to four things at a time.

Simplicity can make that happen: It helps people remember you and why they identified with you.

That, in turn, generates sales, which increases your revenue.

The simplicity principle is so significant that it's part of the Global Brand Simplicity Index compiled by Siegel+Gale, a global brand strategy, design, and experience firm.

According to this study, 64 percent of consumers are willing to pay more for simple experiences. Even more astounding? There is a direct correlation between brand simplicity and stock performance: A portfolio of the top 10 brands of publicly-traded companies outpaced the DOW with astounding growth of 433 percent compared to 105 percent.

Today’s surprise finding: there is a direct correlation between brand simplicity and stock performance

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You read correctly: 433 percent

Now, do we have your attention?

The key is getting there. First, we need to understand what simplicity means in this context. It does not mean a stark white business card with a typewriter font. Although that may be appropriate for a business, simplicity doesn’t refer to a specific look and feel. It doesn’t mean sterile or simple-minded. It doesn’t mean stripped of personality like a Soviet-era government building. To the contrary: over-simplification can kill your brand by eliminating its story.

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As described by Jeff Jones, CMO of Target, simplicity is “an extraordinary skill—it means taking lots of ideas, possibilities, and challenges and distilling them into the essence of what matters most.” Siegel+Gale refers to simplicity as the intersection in the branding of “remarkably clear and unexpectedly fresh.”

When tied to its purpose, simplicity in branding is that sophisticated efficiency that compels your target audiences to accurately remember you

Cleverness doesn’t count if people forget you. A few things to keep in mind: what works for one business will not work for others. The approach for each component of your brand must be a cohesive part of your well-crafted branding strategy. What is “simple” for one company might be overly complex for another. In some instances, a simple logo doesn’t work, such as when you offer a complexity of services like this company.

You probably know your logo and your business card like the back of your hand. You might not have changed it in five years. The point of acknowledging this means that you may not be the most objective in assessing the simplicity of your brand. Although your best friend might be wonderfully honest, they, too, will not have the same objectivity as your target audiences.

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Here are a few questions and tests to you help gauge your brand’s level of simplicity:

  1. Do people understand or predict what you offer after seeing a logo and a tagline? Is it clear and easy to explain? Or does it take five minutes, plus notes on two to three cocktail napkins, to explain?

  1. Do people forget what you do after you share your logo, tagline, and story? How often do you hear, “Oh, that’s right”?

  1. Conduct a consumer poll: Do customers accurately pick out a wordless version of your logo from a list of competitors? How quickly do they recognize you? Is there a pattern in any confusion?

  1. Look at the companies in the Global Simplicity Index. How does your brand compare to your Fortune 500 competitor? What similarities do you see? What differences?

  1. Don’t forget the Customer Experience (CX) component of your brand (and if you don’t believe you offer one, think again). What is your typical consumer’s journey with you? Is it efficient and easy, or cumbersome and detailed? What complaints do your target audiences have when purchasing from you? For good examples of “simplicity” in customer experience, think Amazon’s one-click shopping or ZipCar’s seamless packaging of car rental, insurance, gas, tolls, pick up, and delivery.

The path to simplicity doesn’t have to be complicated. But it should be well-planned and thoughtfully executed. And remember, branding is perception. If your target audiences do not perceive their relationship with you as simple or do not remember your brand because the story feels and looks complicated, then you haven’t found the simplicity that works for you. It’s worth the investment.

re perez.jpg

Re Perez is a Brand Strategist, Creative Visionary, Inspirational Speaker and founder of BRANDING FOR THE PEOPLE™. His background includes senior-level brand consulting positions at Interbrand, Siegel+Gale, Reputation Institute and TMP Worldwide and he has worked on many of the world's favorite Fortune 500 brands. By applying Fortune 500 Branding Best Practices to emerging and expanding businesses, Re has been instrumental in the success of some of the fastest growing companies in America and has helped his clients double, triple and quadruple their revenues. 

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