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Think BR: The importance, impact and benefits of simplicity

Some of the world's most successful brands make a virtue of simplicity, writes Philip Davies, president EMEA, Siegel+Gale.

Philip Davies, president EMEA, Siegel+Gale

Philip Davies, president EMEA, Siegel+Gale

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There is no time for Olympic blues. After the excitement of the Olympics and Paralympic Games this summer, London’s creative community has yet another treat in store as the city hosts the world’s creative community at the 10th Annual London Design Festival, which begins on Friday. 

Highlighting London’s pivotal role in design, the festival invites creative talent from across the world to seek out the latest trends and be submerged in the cultural and commercial programme: from the public facing landmark projects, to private views, debates and parties.

Elemental, essential and profitable, simplicity is an increasingly hot topic for brands.

Across the board there is demand from consumers trying to navigate their way through an increasingly complicated world, crowded with both real and virtual clutter.

And simplicity is a topic that is fast moving up the boardroom agenda too. Companies that respond to the collective cry for transparency, easy access and clear presentation - ie, simplicity gain on the bottom line and beyond.

When things are beautifully simple they are more powerful; they get into our heads faster and stay there for longer. 

Simplicity, when properly applied, serves a purpose: it helps us make choices, saves time, money and minimises debate.

But simplicity isn’t easy. Mastering complexity is the new brand challenge and the brands that get it right, win.

They win passion from their employees, loyalty from their customers and gain insights into their business that set the foundations for the future.

Many of the world’s best known brands make a cult of simplicity. Look at IKEA with its flat packs, McDonald’s with its burgers, or Berkshire Hathaway with its buy, improve and hold approach to investing.

Apple has cut through the buzzing confusion of its industry by applying the same formula to a succession of iProducts.

It is also ruthless about pruning its catalogue. The classic iPod media player used to come in different sizes, now it just comes in one.

When it comes to the design of products, service experiences, or any creative endeavour, from film to arts to music, one of the biggest compliments heard is "that’s great, it’s just so simple." Why is that and what do we mean when we say it?

Ultimately, if you don’t control complexity, it controls you. Nobody wants a complicated relationship - certainly not in the world of business.

The businesses that employ simplicity succeed by getting out of their own way, and in doing so draw their customers closer.

But simple isn’t easy. How do you create with simplicity in mind? How do you keep things simple, but still ensure that they have depth?

As part of this years’ London Design Festival Philip Davies, president EMEA at strategic brand consultancy Siegel+Gale, will chair a debate at the V&A on 20 September to question the importance, impact and benefits of simplicity. Join the debate #SimplicityTalks @siegelgale

Philip Davies, president EMEA, Siegel+Gale

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