“Less is More” is the New Paradigm in Building Brands

Who would have predicted that in the year 2012, a silent movie would win the Oscar for Best Picture? The fact that “The Artist” defied the odds is a manifestation of consumers’ demand for “less is more”. Consumers are rejecting the “bigger is better” culture that dominated the late nineties and 2000’s and came crashing down with the global economic crisis. Add to that the daily barrage of information, advertising, news, social media and politics and you have a consumer audience begging for simplicity, less clutter, honesty and integrity.

One only has to look around to see signals of how “Less is More” is permeating our culture. Design trends in fashion and décor are simple, clean and uncluttered while the new culinary trend is fewer ingredients and simpler recipes. Architectural design is also delivering smaller, more efficient spaces with clean lines and less fuss, and giant retailers like Walmart are opening smaller stores with scaled down product offerings, like Walmart Express in Chicago.

Consumers desperately want to be able to more easily navigate the complicated networks of information and they are responding to brands that speak to them rather than shout at them. So what does this mean for branders? There are new requirements in order to engage prospects and customers and not turn them off and so Less is More is now, more than ever, an important part of our evolving communications culture. Think “tweeting”, “texting”, “posting” – short internet delivered communications that are the antithesis of the tonnage of mass marketing messages, endless, conflicting messages from politicians and the excessive media coverage of things both important and insignificant.

Brands need to rethink how they communicate with consumers, from how they organize their products and services to how they name their products. Website navigation should be simple and intuitive, product instructions should be easy to understand – think Apple products – and packaging should not require an engineering degree to open. While it may sound counter-intuitive, brands that deliver simple, subtle, honest, transparent messages will be the ones that break through the clutter.

And brands that can quickly embrace “Less is More” might find themselves being the surprising winner, just as “The Artist” did.