Branding – the subtle art of keeping it simple

In a world where every communication, advert and experience is at our fingertips, complicated messages can often get lost in the ether. The result? Expensive campaigns, websites, and creative blend into a backdrop of many other fancy and complex inventions. Users get over stimulated and turn off, leaving engagement low and marketers scrambling to think up a new strategy to grab the customers attention. The answer is, well, simple.

The unspoken rule of simplicity and the power it wields for brands wanting to leave their mark is paramount. If a product or service is already multifaceted, why make it even harder to understand with chaotic design and comms? There’s a reason why the old adage ‘less is more’ still rings true. But, when it comes to businesses getting it right, who is recognising that the simple things in life bring the higher rewards – and just how are they doing it?

Thoughtful reduction – it all starts with taking a step back

To gain clarity, the easiest and quickest way to achieve your goal is to strip things right back. The same is true when it comes to your brand. It’s not easy, especially when you live and breathe something, but those who get it right really do see the benefits when it comes to consumer interaction. Keeping your product and message simple is a sure-fire way of highlighting what makes you different, just look at Magnum.

The before and after on this branding refurb shows that although the simplification is subtle, the refined result evokes a change in perception, one of luxury and sophistication. By changing the logo, the hallmark now feels more like a gold stamp. This is also reflected in the packaging design, where the simplified solution makes the product feel even more luxurious and appealing than it already was.

You’re now longer looking at a basic sweet treat, instead the consumer is coaxed into feeling reassured that Magnum is providing quality and indulgent satisfaction – and all from a pared back approach to how the product is presented to the end user.

Complexity? It just needs a little more control…

With so much on offer out there, it’s imperative that businesses put the end user experience and usability at the core of everything they do. Why? Because the simpler the functionality, the more likely it is to get repeat and new business. From the design of a website to the navigation on a membership digital dashboard or checkout, if it’s not simple, it just won’t fly. The American fitness app, Strava knows this better than most.

The fitness tracker brand did a complete simplification overhaul of its platform functionalities and opted for a highly considered, super simple redesign.

The brands new intuitive solution showcases a user’s fitness data in an easy-to-understand and visually engaging way. By doing this the brand took complex data and re-thought the solution from a customer perspective, prioritising usability alongside an understanding of the fast-paced/instant-access requirements that users expect.

Emotion is there to be extracted – in the right way.

A friend to all is a friend to none might now be a famous T-Swift lyric, but the proverb is still a powerful one. In today’s day and age many brands get lost trying to market to anyone and everything, resulting in complicated messaging and design that confuses key demographics, and ultimately puts them off. What some brands are forgetting is that by presenting key benefits clearly, based on an understanding of specific target audiences, cultural change and industry evolution, the message sinks in a lot quicker, for much longer – and to the right people.

America’s National Gallery of Art rebrand did just that.

By rebranding with a conscious attitude towards its importance as a national institution (that exists to serve the people) coupled with a clear understanding of being diverse, inclusive, and welcoming, the gallery understood its role and delivered. And what’s more, they did it with simplification at the beating heart. The team stripped back the brands colour palette to include striking bold colours, reflecting the wide audience range and emphasizing the brands overarching message of unity – Of the Nation. For the people.

This was further emphasised by elevating the importance of the words with simple, yet effective, font weight changes. In essence, the Gallery understood its cultural role, and amplified it with simplification. Perfection.

To earn customer trust, you must first trust yourself.

Consumers old and young have never been so tuned-in when it comes to brand loyalty. To achieve this holy grail of consumer emotions, brands who have nothing to hide are polling in first place. The best way to be transparent? Simple, honest branding.

The most obvious example of brands who have hit this sweet spot by expressing trust with simple honesty are food supermarkets. Never one to shy away from an on-the-nose marketing campaign is M&S. Taking simple honesty to the next level, the supermarket giant of the bourgeoisie announced earlier this year that they will be releasing a series of 62 adverts that showcase the British farmers they source produce from.

Even from watching the first introductory video viewers can see straight away what they’re promoting – ethical, sustainable food sold by a leading supermarket with the most RSPCA-assured sources. What this boldly shows to the customer is that M&S are putting their money where their mouth is, investing millions in its value proposition of putting animal welfare first. It instills trust, inspires loyalty, and best of all – it’s really simple.

How can we help make things simple?

All in all, it’s clear that weaving simplicity into a brand’s very fabric is the way to ensure the success and growth of your business from the foundations up. This means applying this principle from digital and tech, all the way through to design – the most exceptionally obvious way of assuring economic sensibility, don’t you think?

At Designmc we know how to to keep your customers hooked, engaged and above all, loyal with just the right amount of simplification. If you need any help with simplifying your brand or business functions, please do get in touch – we’d love to help.

To find out more by contacting us at hello@designmc.org