In Archetypes, Branding


The Art of Brand Simplicity

We all have that enthusiastic friend or colleague who ends every email with a series of exclamation points!!!!

But for me, the overuse of exclamation points minimizes their intended impact. Like Aesop’s allegory about the boy who cried wolf, I stop paying attention to the urgency of the communication.

Or as F. Scott Fitzgerald said, “An exclamation point is like laughing at your own jokes.”

Some brands make the same mistake in trying to gain attention. They get too loud about too many things and we get distracted, confused and stop listening.

Ever meet a company that can’t stop naming and trade marking their products or services? A start-up we know has an intriguing business concept and a name that captures it all. But we had to curb their naming enthusiasm as they continued to propose clever ideas for each product, workshop and tool they launch.

Our advice: If everything screams, nothing gets heard.

Like the overuse of punctuation (or too much of any good thing), you risk diluting the strength of your message.

In his recent BLOG post “Startup Brands: 7 Keys for Brand Strategy Success,” Thomas Dawson says, “Brand Development is about the art of sacrifice,” reminding us that ‘Enduring brands represent a singular, simple idea that is motivating and unquestionably relevant.”

Yes, it takes more time to develop a simple message that delivers on every front, but in the end, it’s the simple, clear message that will get repeated attention and stick.

This is true in brand language as well as in brand art; less is more. The most iconic brand marks are often minimalist executions. It’s not because the graphic designer didn’t have any strong ideas. Rather, they deliberately scaled back to the strongest idea.

Expressionist painter Hans Hofmann put it this way, “The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak.”

If you or your brand are guilty of screaming, chances are, you are also being tuned out. Rather than overstating and over-designing, you may need to reposition your brand in a way that lets your message stand on its own two feet.

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