Turning simplicity into your guiding business principle
I’ve said before on this blog – simplicity is always more powerful than complexity. Some firms are better at putting simplicity into practice than others. One of them is an award-winning branding firm out of New York. Its motto is “simple is smart.” Take a look at how it brings simplicity to bear and what a powerful force it can become in your life…
I’ve said it before on this blog – simplicity is always more powerful than complexity. It's just a fact of life.
People easily understand, remember and trust simplicity. Complexity is over-packaged and is prone to confounding people and making them suspicious of what’s being communicated.
Some firms are better at putting simplicity into practice than others. One of them is the award-winning branding firm Siegel+Gale, which has offices around the world. The motto on Siegel+Gale’s home page is this: Simple is smart.
And here’s what the New York-based firm says about what it does in just 36 words:
"Simplicity is key in creating the distinctive brand programs that help our clients excel. Our purpose and passion is to help organizations see themselves and their value in simple, compelling terms – powering memorable, motivating brand experiences."
It presents those words on its uncluttered "about us" web page in a simple, sans-serif typeface. That statement’s only affectation is that the letters appear in the color red, presumable to stress their import.
Indications are that Siegel+Gale’s philosophy is working. This year the firm won two gold awards from the United Kingdom’s Transform Awards in recognition for its re-branding of the Islamic Trade Finance Corporation. Go to this link, http://www.itfc-idb.org, to take a look at the organization's home page.
Notice that, like Siegel+Gale, the Islamic Trade website carries a simple, clear, powerful motto: Advancing trade, improving lives.
Also observe its statement of purpose, an expansion of the motto: "The International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation is advancing trade to improve the economic situation and livelihoods of people across the Islamic world."
Compare those forceful and memorable statements with the gobbledygook that riddles most websites, including those representing some of the world’s largest and most notable companies.
How do you build a brand on gobbledygook?
How serious is Siegel+Gale about simplicity as a guiding principle? This will give you a clue. It has an Executive Director of Simplification. Her name is Irene Etzkom. She writes about the effective use of simplicity.
One example of the kind of simplicity Etzkom points to is the Google home page, which is famous for its austerity. Etzkorn says Google uses a “zero-based” approach of requiring justification for any modifications or additions to its pristine home page to avoid “creeping complexity.”
The Siegel+Gale operating principle isn’t just about spartan web pages and clear sentences. Simplicity can and should be brought to bear on all phases of a company’s operation with remarkable results.
Take the example of financial services firm ING Direct. As Etzkorn wrote: “Many companies just don’t know when to stop. Proliferating features and product variations ensure excessive cost and customer confusion. Simplifiers, like ING Direct, limit their product line to savings, CDs, funds, and mortgages so that the customer is not overwhelmed by choice and the bank can easily serve its customers. They also realize that fewer products, processes, and communications translate to cost savings. ING Direct operates nationally with a staff of just 1,000 and operating costs are about one-third of traditional banks.”
Apple turned itself into the world’s most valuable technology company (based on market capitalization) and one of the most successful consumer products companies by insisting that its product designers focus on simplicity and elegance in creating blockbuster products like the iMac, iPod, iPhone and iPad.
What about your company? Is simplicity part of the culture? Do you have a simple and memorable motto and brand? Are your products and services readily understood by your customers (and would-be customers)? Is your website a cluttered and confusing mess, or is it clean and easy to read and navigate? Are your contracts, product descriptions and user manuals written with clarity and brevity?
Simplicity is a powerful but elusive force. Bring it fully to bear in your company and you’re sure to be surprised by what it can do for customer attraction and cash flow.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mike Consol is president of MikeConsol.com. He provides corporate training seminars for communication skills, business writing, PowerPoint presentation skills and media training (both traditional media and social media). Consol spent 17 years with American City Business Journals, the nation’s largest publisher of metropolitan business journals with 40 weekly newspapers across the United States. While at ACBJ, Consol held a variety of key posts.