Make Everything as Simple as Possible.

An old adage always applies – K.I.S.S – Keep It Simple, Stupid. To speak more principally, apply Occam’s Razor to your creative development problem. This is not ‘the simplest answer is the correct one’, it is the one with ‘the fewest new assumptions.’

Launching a new product or reinvigorating a new brand can take on many shapes. In an oversaturated market (and they’re all oversaturated) it can be difficult to get one product or brand to stand out among the noise. It is the most basic and first hurdle that we can’t afford to ignore. We live in a society that is constantly blaring messages and launching new products, ad nauseam. Or paradox:

Although Barry Schwartz’s focus is on the freedom of choice in relation to product availability, his thinking can be applied to brand, design and consumer interaction. The question it brings to the surface is “What is going to make people want to interact with your brand?”

Don’t add bells and whistles that don’t need to be there. Don’t bog yourself down in elements and messaging – get the point across, do it fast and do it well. Say what needs to be said. In the average magazine ad, you have a fraction of a second to get someone’s attention and make a mark. Can your ad be understood and memorable in less than a second?

Thinking specifically about marketing campaigns, I’ve had to design ads that had far too many messaging properties. In one case, I had:

  • Brand Logo *
  • Current Brand Tagline
  • Campaign Line
  • “Win” Messaging *
  • Prize Messaging
  • Prize Visuals
  • Consumer Actions (What to do, how to do it)
  • Legal *

Of everything that I was instructed to include, Only three things were truly nessecary. Most of the text on there was suplerfuous marketing fodder that only discouraged people from reading the entire message. Although most of it could seem nesseccary, combining and simplifying several of those requests would have not only made the design more manageable, but would have incensed more people to engage in it. As it stood, it turned out that particular project was too difficult for people to engage in.

We live in a joy-centric society. Because the basic necessities we need to eat, drink and shelter ourselves are generally met, our consumer base operates off of a ‘What is going to bring me the most enjoyment with the least amount of effort.” That kind of thinking applies to everything – from convenience shopping, Internet activity, entertainment consumption, and brand loyalty.

This theory can apply anywhere in life, so it has to be kept in mind by advertisers, producers and brands. Because of the need to sell mass messaging about mass products to a mass audience, we have to keep in mind that people are innundated with conversations with others out there – we can’t pretend we’re in a vaccum when putting out a message. We have to remain concious of what we might be up against in the real world when putting out a message, and whom we’re putting it out to.

Make everything as simple as possible, but not simpler.

-Albert Einstien

Anecdotally, I recall sitting in a meeting about pitching campaign messaging for a line of kids toys. This particular line of toys wasn’t educational. In fact, the brand was gender specific, used lust triggers and centered on a competitive joy factor. The brand positioning was targeted directly at boys, with an age bracket of 4-12. Specifically this campaign was supposed to go after 4 and 5 year olds. This meeting was going very, very long and seemed to continually circle back on itself. The pivoting point of the discussion was messaging, or course. I had to point out that our target audience couldn’t read. That changed to focus of the meeting from messaging to visuals – simple symbolism and attractive graphics were going to do a lot more to sell this to the target than something about what they could win if they collected this that and went on a website.

How would you apply this approach to your business? Do you incorporate this thinking into your design?

Give me some feedback!