Oversimplify at Your Own Risk

5 December 2017

Oversimplify at Your Own Risk

Oversimplify at Your Own Risk

There’s a growing misconception that clean and simple messaging is the new gold standard for brands. Simon Thorneycroft, Perspective: Branding's CEP  believes it’s the main reason that many packs today are starting to look the same at retail and that simple messaging has been interpreted into empty design that is lacking personality

Why is it that by making something simple, we also strip away the heart of it? To make it ‘modern’ we must de-humanize it ... but, conversely, we crave more human experiences, things we can interact with, touch, smell and feel.

The other risk of oversimplifying design is that it leaves nothing left to protect and trademark, resulting in a high risk of copycats. Take Banza for example (www.eatbanza.com), brilliant idea, great product and refreshingly bold striking design. But, longer term, what does the design tell me about the brand character, where’s the personal touch and how do you trademark a look so clean and simple?

Another challenge is considering the increase in the number of people who will order products from Amazon not only online … but by asking Alexa (or other intelligent personal assistants) to order without even seeing an image of the product. That leaves no choice but to be top of mind!

I recently heard Terri Goldstein, founder and principal, The Goldstein Group, speak about her proprietary Shelf Sight Sequence to explain how when we shop, we see colors, then shapes and symbols before any words.

If we take that thinking and expand upon it, we need to address the following:

  • A stand-out brand color in the category. Current trends across categories show many brands are using either white or black as their brand blocking color – this monotony must be broken in order to create impact at shelf.
  • A distinctive brand identity – this doesn’t necessarily refer to a logo, but you must have some kind of visual shorthand to the brand’s promise. Whatever is chosen, it must have the ability to be easily remembered and speak directly to the brand’s story.
  • Brand personality – The RX Bar that has recently been enjoying lots of attention did so with its ‘No BS’ line. It set a distinctive tone for the brand and established an immediate connection. The personality of the brand is connected to an experience – and this speaks to the essence of the product.
  • An honest, straightforward approach to health/nutritional labeling. We have a responsibility to help clarify the utter confusion that is on shelf today by carefully selecting key messages and images on packaging

So, with the plethora of products/brands all vying for our attention across numerous social media channels,  we need to balance the desire for ‘modern’ simplicity with the advantage of maintaining character and distinctive assets.


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