Simplicity has value. Yes, it’s a little counter intuitive. We all think we want the car with all the bells and whistles, not the stripped-down model with a no-nonsense engine and some wheels. However, recent surveys are telling us that simple messages, simple products and simple services give consumers a few ideas that surpass the bells and whistles.
One idea is that, when a brand’s meaning is easily understood, the public perceives that interacting with that brand will be uncomplicated. Let’s take Amazon, for example, currently the number one simple brand in the U.S.: Everyone knows that Amazon means “hassle-free online marketplace”. Knowing that, the public expects to be able to open Amazon easily, shop for what they want easily, buy an item quickly, and then receive fast shipment without any difficulty. We seem naturally attracted to a respite from ubiquitous information overload and the stress of complicated transactions.
Studies show that consumers will spend more on simpler experiences than on the complicated ones. Contrary to the “bells & whistles” idea, consumers seem to understand that the less complicated something is, the less there is that can go wrong. Starbucks is a good example (this year’s number ten simple U.S. brand): You a pay a premium, but you get exactly what you want and you get it right now. Easy. Yes, you can get more than coffee, but the emphasis is on what Starbucks does best and what the public wants the most.
Perhaps the more powerful idea is that an easily-understood brand is more trustworthy. Example: McDonald’s (currently America’s number three simple brand). To understand the meaning of the McDonald’s brand is to know exactly what you’re going to get at McDonald’s. Even if you think McDonald’s food is consistently bad, its consistency is comforting. With that kind of identity, consumers are comfortable not only interacting with the brand, but recommending it to friends as well.