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The real power of simplicity

Simplicity has taken the world by storm. It’s everywhere you look. Think modern architecture, interior design, capsule wardrobes, fashion labels, fintech – the list goes on. Our minds crave simplicity – it gives us calm, clarity and focus as our senses are repeatedly overloaded and bombarded.

Brands understand the power of simplicity to cut through the noise, stand out from the crowd, and lodge themselves within people’s minds. Moving towards simplicity seems like a no brainer. But there’s a real art to getting it right. Too simple and stripped-back can result in a brand that’s bland and boring – lacking in any real personality or distinctiveness. There can also be something intriguing and even reassuring in a little complexity – too much oversimplification can dumb down intelligent ideas.

Here are three tips on how to unlock the real power of simplicity:

1 Think beyond identity

There are countless recent examples of brands that have simplified and stripped back their identities – their logos in particular – ranging from luxury fashion houses like YSL and Celine to more mainstream brands like Airbnb, Warner and even the Premier League. But it takes so much more than a simple identity.

At The Clearing we create and develop brands that have a simple, clear and single-minded idea at their core. This idea is what we call a brand promise – and it’s the distillation of the brand’s positioning and point of view into a few words or a memorable phrase. Everyone working on behalf of the brand can keep the promise in mind to direct, guide and inspire everything they do – whether that’s developing products, service or culture or creating inspiring experiences and communications. It helps keep focus on what’s most important and makes sure customers really understand what you’re about.

2 Don’t make simplicity simplistic

One of the dangers of simplicity is over-simplicity. While complexity leads to greater cognitive loads and therefore greater mental exhaustion, the brain does actually like a bit of a puzzle to grab attention and pique our interest. So, it’s important for brands and businesses not to fall into this trap.

Many tech and data driven businesses are inherently complex, but the most successful ones are able to demonstrate the intelligence that sits behind them in a simple, clear way. One such business is Pivotal – a start-up whose mission is to provide the data people and companies need to invest in positive outcomes for nature, helping to regenerate biodiversity as one of the ways to counteract climate change.  The team has developed a revolutionary way of measuring the messy world of biodiversity accurately, affordably and at scale using cutting-edge technology and AI. It needed a brand that was compelling, appealing and credible – one that could strike the right balance between simplicity and complexity. We positioned the brand as a beacon of positivity that could cut through the greenwash and negativity surrounding the climate crisis - while demonstrating the integrity of the business in a way that was arresting, memorable and most importantly, simple.

3 Make an emotional connection with words

As brands move towards a simpler, more stripped back visual aesthetic – personality and tone of voice become even more important to help brands stand apart and create an emotional connection with their audiences. The right words, carefully chosen, have the power to convey bucket loads of character.

With our help, Wattbike has been able to communicate its credentials as the most accurate and insightful smart training brand whilst building an emotional connection with the people who matter. By focusing on the question ‘Why Wattbike?’ and tapping into the intrinsic motivations of people who want to train, we created a bold and distinctive attitude and tone of voice that reflects the technical intelligence of the product in a clear and simple way whilst also being full of personality and emotion.