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Why saying less can mean more

We live in an age of distraction, disruption and digital noise. It’s been said a million times before that, to be heard amongst the noise from advertising and marketing that permeates our lives, a brand needs to stand out from the crowd.

Easier said than done, right? That much is obvious. But the big brands have done exactly this, by cutting through the clutter and noise to find their message and say it simply and effectively. They know who they are, and they make their customers’ experiences straightforward too. Think Google, Netflix and Amazon.

One timely example is the recent unified rebranding of John Lewis, Waitrose and the John Lewis Partnership identities by Pentagram’s Harry Pearce. The branding itself has been paired down – Gill Sans wordmarks and clean, bold line patterns that pay tribute to John Lewis’ origins as a haberdasher. And, both the John Lewis and Waitrose logotypes now include the phrase “& Partners”– a straightforward but effective approach to highlighting their employee-owned business model that underpins many of their company values.

This rebranding process took three years to implement, and achieves three key goals: to unite the three brands, to emphasise the partnership model, and to create a versatile identity that can be used across a vast array of channels and products.

It’s not surprising that this kind of approach to simplicity is so successful; simplicity, it seems, not only drives productivity, but can be key to a brand’s success and – crucially – customer loyalty.

Keep It Simple

In a world saturated by messaging, brands shouldn’t be afraid to follow the lead of John Lewis and Waitrose and go for a strong, simple message that conveys their values.

Creatively and aesthetically, it’s all too easy to overcompensate and say too much. The anxiety of leaving out what is perceived to be key information can sometimes cloud judgement, to the extent that information is overshared.

When you have limited time to capture the attention of your audience, you’ve got to have a message that gets to the point – and quickly. Audiences are becoming increasingly savvy about brand authenticity, so your simple message needs to be carefully crafted – impactful, innovative and evergreen – in order to be trusted as a genuine one.

Say too much, and you could dilute the message, and lose your audience – and your brand loyalty.

Embracing simplicity is only the first step. Secondly, you’ve got to nail the message.

To Coin a Phrase

Coining that message and delivering it across varied media can be a long creative process. It’s all too easy to chop and change your identity and your message – and sometimes a brand refresh can be a good thing – but get the core message right, and it should easily translate across all media, for all time.

In marketing and advertising there’s a phenomenon known as “effective frequency” – the number of times a consumer is exposed to a message in order for it to engender the desired action or response. Here, consistency and simplicity is key. It becomes easier to live and breathe your values and BE the message, but it also helps your audience become a part of and share the message too. That’s the endgame.

Achieving the perfect, powerful message that your brand can own is the trick to winning that game.