Beauty in simplicity

You only need to look at nineties advertising to see the word “simplicity” used to connote boring, stale, unimpressive:

Brand messages were loud and in-your-face. Most spots were replete with animations, eye-popping text and bright colors. Today’s advertisements are sleek and stylish, slower-paced but more intentional and focused in their message than their nineties predecessors.

Apple is especially skilled in its simplistic branding approach, namely with their iPad Air campaign:

The focus remains on the pencil and the desk the entire time, regardless of any miscellaneous background activity occurring. Despite the scenery changing multiple times, each location mostly sticks to one color palette – the whitewashed, sterile apartment, the library’s warm, rich mahogany, the classroom’s drab beige and tan hues. The closing frame is an all-white background with a black Apple logo and ‘iPad Air’ text in a sans serif font.

This shift in branding strategy comes as we, as a society, now pride ourselves on how busy we are, a phenomenon Tim Kreider addresses in his New York Times essay, “The Busy Trap.” Kreider argues that our business is largely self-imposed, which is probably true. Regardless, people remain busy whether by choice or some other consequence. We no longer want to be inundated with bright colors and jarring, animated text. We’re so caught up in moving, in this on-the-go mentality, that we don’t need intense external stimulus to keep our attention.

Simplicity grabs our attention because we’ve made our lives so complex. We find beauty in simplicity. An affordable grocery store that delivered on its promise helped Aldi Foods clinch the No. 1 spot as the world’s favorite brand in 2013. Amazon vaulted 10 spots from last year to No. 2 for its “easy-to-use click-through purchase process.” That might not sound groundbreaking, but executing the simple things perfectly makes an enormous difference.

Aldi kept its promise to customers to stock affordable groceries. Amazon streamlined their payment process, saving its users valuable time. What will you do for your customers?

by Matt DeFaveri

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