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Simplicity: A Powerful Brand Strategy


Simplicity- A Powerful Brand Strategy

The basic concept of some products predicts failure. Not because they don’t work, but because they don’t make sense. Consider Mennen’s vitamin E deodorant. That’s right, you sprayed a vitamin under your arm. It doesn’t make sense unless you want the healthiest, best-fed armpits in the nation. It quickly failed.

Consider the Apple Newton. It was a fax, beeper, calendar keeper, and pen-based computer. Too complex. It’s gone and the much simpler Palm Pilot is an enormous success. The best way to really enter minds that hate complexity and confusion is to oversimplify your message.  Some of the most powerful programs are those that focus on a single word. (Wells Fargo: fast. Volvo: safety. Listerine: kills germs.)

The lesson here is not to try to tell your entire story. Just focus on one powerful differentiating idea and drive it into the mind. That sudden hunch, that creative leap of the mind that ‘‘sees’’ in a flash how to solve a problem in a simple way, is something quite different from general intelligence.

If there’s any trick to finding that simple set of words, it’s one of being ruthless about how you edit the story you want to tell. Anything that others could claim just as well as you can, eliminate. Anything that requires a complex analysis to prove, forget. Anything that doesn’t fit with your customers’ perceptions, avoid.

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Matt Cheuvront on July 06th, 2009 said

Great thoughts here. It’s all about specializing – if you try to do everything you’ll end up doing nothing. Keep it simple and streamline your focus to a targeted niche.

Stuart Foster on July 06th, 2009 said

By streamlining and simplifying the amount of options on something you make it becomes infinitely more attractive. Less is more when it is able to create a clear, cohesive message.

Loved this post.

Tony on July 07th, 2009 said

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”

Leonardo da Vinci

Justin Breitfelder on July 10th, 2009 said

Elegantly simple post Jack. This is the essence of positioning — Edit your brand story down to it’s differentiated essence in a few words or word.

Once you’ve started a conversation, then you can expand it interactively based on the direction of the dialogue.


Dale Paulson ,Ph.D on July 16th, 2009 said

Jack, Derrick and Brad,

I agree with your premise, “The basic concept of some products predicts failure. Not because they don’t work, but because they don’t make sense.”

Certainly, Mennen’s vitamin E deodorant didn’t make sense. But I am not sure that the problem of what makes sense is always so easy to determine. Consumers tend to make sense, but only to themselves. This is why I like a pictographic open-ended approach. Put the logo on a proposed extension–product and let the respondent talk. They will tell you right quick if you’ve got a eagle or a turkey.

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