Brands that work hard at simplicity succeed

The more I work with brands, the more I understand how keeping things simple is so very important, because it’s so powerful.

Part of my motivation behind this blog was because I wanted to bring more simplicity and clarity to the discussion of branding and concepts associated with it, especially when related to small and medium businesses.

Many years ago, during my first week at Di Marca Brand Performance I was handed a copy of Allen P. Adamson’s book Brand Simple, to read. The jacket promises a ‘refreshingly simple solution’ to creating successful brands that resonate with customers, which boils down to;

  • Build your brand on a tested idea. (ie. get clear on your purpose and brand essence)
  • Ensure the brand’s design and message fits its true meaning (ie. be authentic to your brand purpose and brand personality in how you look and how you act)
  • Avoid unnecessary and complicated strategies. (ie. repeat above, again and again, be authentic, deliver on your purpose, it’s not rocket science!)

Allen really nails the importance of simplicity to building and maintaining a powerful brand. It’s a really readable book on brand strategy, and it certainly planted the seeds within me regarding the power of simplicity in branding.

It takes hard work to get to simple, to really hone in on the most simplistic purpose and how to communicate it. But once you have it, simple is easy to implement. This is the beauty in it. Complexity is actually expensive, so of course simple makes sense!

  • Keep your message simple – and repeat it over and over again
  • Keep your processes simple –  customers want a simple transaction or relationship
  • Keep your offering simple – and ensure it’s aligned with your purpose
  • Keep your strategy simple, everyone in the organisation needs to be able to understand it, articulate it – and implement it!

Siegel+Gale surveys consumers annually to create their Global Brand Simplicity Index and their 2014 report has just been released, which is a really interesting read.

Globally, of the 12,318 consumers across 8 countries they surveyed, Aldi tops the simplicity index for the second year in a row for their “clear pricing and clear offer–namely, high quality at low prices with a trimmed-down approach that makes decisions easier and the shopping experience basic, but rewarding”, with Google following close behind. As you’d expect, McDonalds is a consistent top 10 finisher and came in at #4 for its “variety of basic offerings and knowledge that McDonalds is ‘the same everywhere.’”.

More interestingly, consumers don’t just say they prefer simple brands, data shows they actually outperform more complex brands financially. Since 2009, a stock portfolio comprising of the publicly traded simplest brands in the Global Top 10 has outperformed stock indexes like S&P, the DAX, the DOW and the FTSE by an average of 170% – proving that it pays to invest in working hard to get simple.

Download your copy of the Simplicity Index here – it’s full of these and other thought-provoking simplicity insights.


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