“Simplify, simplify, simplify.”
“One ‘simplify’ would have been enough.”
—Emerson, in response
Marketers love to complicate things. But in our zeal to appear smarter than the next guy and find (or create) the next brilliant new solution, we’ve actually turned stupid. Ad agency “thought leaders” prattle on about “big data” and “storifying the brand” to derive their clientele’s “unique selling proposition (USP)” and develop “360-degree immersive experiences” that are “synergistic,” “œholistic,” and “bleeding edge.” Ugh. Pop into any of my meetings (full of “circle backs,” “parking lots,” and “post mortems”) and you’ll hear a steady stream of the same drivel from yours truly. Used car salesmen get a bad rap, but we’re the ones who should. Brands, too, have lost their way. I believe a brand that is pure and uncomplicated will ultimately beat a brand that is wrapped in shiny, whiz-bang gadgetry and methodology malarkey 100% of the time. Makes you wonder why every brand these days touts its “innovation,” yet very few brands claim “simplicity” as one of their all-important pillars. Here are five simple questions every brand should answer: Do you know what your purpose is, and can you state it clearly and succinctly? Can all of your employees and customers say what it is in a few words? Are your services and products easy to understand and use? Is your message simple and memorable? Does it inspire? Our only challenge in branding, marketing, and advertising should be how to make things less challenging. Great brands should be inherently simple. They should be the shorthand that helps us navigate a cluttered world of companies, products, and services so that we know what to choose. They should make life easier for their audiences: in experience, in language, in design. They should realize that when their brand provides a utility—not just advertising or a cool logo—it becomes helpful. Necessary, even. My favorite example of this isÂ something we do 2 billion times every day. Communicating brands has to get better. Content is nifty, sure, but we needn’t overshare with a bunch of people who don’t care about the brand; we should be laser focused on those who do, offering just the information they want. The rest is waste. At Planit, we believe in a single-minded idea. A clear, singular, transformational thought. We’ll come up with countless incredible concepts, but ultimately we want to get to the one. Simplicity. Our business isn’t rocket science. So why are so many agencies, marketing directors, media buyers, and “big data” wonks treating it like it is? I think it’s because being simple isn’t easy. It’s actually hard. It might take more time than being complicated. And it’s a process that’s never really done. It starts with stripping away the jargon and layers of process and fluff to answer questions like the ones above. When we arrive at that clarity and focus, then we can create some amazing stuff. And get this: Because you made life simpler for them, customers will be more loyal, and they’ll pay more for what you’re selling. Easy like Sunday morning.