Brand Matters: Keep It Simpler!
Creativity experts talk about the unique connections that can happen when you use the opposite hand to write or scroll your mouse. I believe the same thing can happen when we unplug, stop texting, tumblring, tweeting and trade Facebook for actual face time and pull out old-fashioned tools like chalkboards, white boards, yellow pads, markers and sticky notes. Business leaders such as Virgin CEO Richard Branson and Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates use low-tech methods like these for creative thinking with their teams. So do I.
Even our most notorious tech creator, Steve Jobs, believed in the power of keeping it simple: "Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it's worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains." One of Jobs' greatest gifts was his ability to simplify complex matters and, in turn, simplify complex products. He was a master simplifier.
Today, a former Jobs' colleague is bringing that same skill to J.C.Penney. CEO Ron Johnson is looking to transform that 110-year old department store with "an uncomplicated pricing strategy, simplifying the value conversation with his customers." Wall Street is responding.
Simplicity may be the new black. Howard Beck, co-president of Seigel+Gale, writes, "Mastering complexity is the new brand challenge—the brands that get it right win passion and loyalty." Can you guess which brands topped the firm's 2011 Global Brand Simplicity Index for the United States market (see the image in the mediaplayer to the right)?
I have no doubt you have frequented nine out of 10 of these brands in the month. Why? These businesses are SIMPLER to do business with than most. They are customer-empathic in words and deeds. Seigel+Gale uses this definition of simplicity for its study: "Ease of understanding, transparency, caring, innovation and usefulness of communications, as well as how complex and complicated typical interactions are in relation to industry peers." In the nonstop whirlwind of 2012, it may be more important than ever to take a time out and ask: How would your brand stack up against these guidelines?
Andrea Syverson is the founder and president of creative branding and merchandising consultancy IER Partners. For 20+ years, Andrea’s joy has been inspiring clients with innovative approaches to branding, product development and creative messaging. She’s the author of two books about brand building and creating customer-centric products that enhance brands: BrandAbout: A Seriously Playful Approach for Passionate Brand-Builders and Merchants and ThinkAbout: 77 Creative Prompts for Innovators. You may reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.