A recent study revealed that the average attention span of the human brain is around eight seconds – one second less than that of a goldfish. Despite the unavoidable demands made on individuals to navigate a wealth of decision-making junctures (that would arguably outweigh those faced by our freshwater counterparts), we are evidently paying less attention to daily details.
Consumers can feel bombarded by advertising messages – typically up to 5,000 a day according to one television network. Brands competing for the attention of the savvy consumer risk overloading the senses with noisy messages. He who shouts the loudest wins? Perhaps not.
It is becoming increasingly easy to overlook a brand message or simply ignore it, allowing it to drown in a sea of meaningless chatter.
While some brands may succeed through channelling “noisy” design, those seeking out a lasting loyal position with their customers are adopting a more refined and succinct demeanour. Simplicity attracts and holds the attention of the consumer. Pragmatic simplicity itself is not wholly reserved for “cheap and cheerful” brands.
Understated and pure design communication is therefore a highly effective tool for any brand seeking to establish a position of quality and integrity.
Pure, uncluttered and simple messages resonate strongly without inviting over-analysis. Let us not surrender to any subsequent desire to overthink everything and allow ourselves to instinctively navigate.
Despite its essence of simplicity, creating effortless communication is often more challenging than it seems. So how can brands harness simplicity and creative purity?
Focus on values
You are what you are – so excel at it. The art of delivering a succinct execution lies in firstly defining your brand values.
Know what your customer loves about your brand and what sets you apart from your competitors. It may not be what you initially expect, but learn to identify these qualities and you potentially have the blueprint for enforcing your values.
One organisation that has strong brand values to set itself apart from conventional comparison is The Sorority, a private society of influential women. Professional women’s clubs and organisations are traditionally born from the need to create a professional sanctuary in male-dominated fields such as the legal and financial industries.
Where The Sorority differs is that it positions itself as an inspirational organisation that is both selective and pioneering – establishing a position of authority and prestige whereby the communication of the brand is more akin to a luxury retailer than a corporate club. The brand itself translates its sophisticated values into creative materials that resonate with its audience of stylish influential women.
Traditional gift bags are often adorned with large logos and little else. The Sorority drew on the discerning fashion vernacular of its audience and created a trompe l’oeil crocodile skin gift bag (the most prized exotic skin in fashion), communicating the ultimate luxurious statement to its bearer (3).
The Sorority draws on creative communication and imaginative design to capture the hearts of its audience to establish an inspiring brand language uncommon in its marketplace.
When immersed in a perpetual state of information overload, intelligent creative editing has become an essential tool of successful communication.
English artist Edward Seago was renowned for capturing the most detailed landscapes with a minimum of brushstrokes. A collection of sweeping lines was often sufficient to capture alluring vistas, for Seago had a natural talent for visual editing. Any that were non-essential to the composition would be removed.
Such an artistic lesson can be directly translated towards cultivating a pure and effective brand. One must continually edit until all essential elements are distilled down to their purest form.
Premium wellbeing company Nosh developed a new brand identity and packaging design for the launch of its new raw smoothie.
It set out to create a strong position in a crowded marketplace by going back to basics and delivering fresh raw goodness – attributes that were further reflected in its branding (2).
Simple, transparent and succinct, these bottles reveal bright revitalising contents with the message “Purify and Nutrify” featuring prominently, thus summarising the core philosophy of the brand.
Keep it real
Pretentious marketing speak is often rapidly identified by today’s consumer, so it is more vital than ever to avoid being something that you are not.
Established brands should refrain from the temptation to veer from their core values in an attempt to experiment with whatever is on trend. Stay true to what you stand for but innovate its delivery.
An example of a brand that has always remained loyal to its values is the popular London venue Mews of Mayfair (1). A bar and restaurant, Mews is well known for its unpretentious atmosphere and consistent quality. The brand has stood by its core values since its launch in 2006; authentic British quality delivered with the occasional unexpected quirk.
Often evoking an impulsive smile, the brand relies on creative communication across its numerous hospitality spaces to establish a loyal and lucrative following.
Back to basics
Before the dawn of the digital age and prevalent reign of social media, brands relied on intelligent ideas and creative communication to captivate the hearts and minds of their consumers. Inevitably, competition remains stiff, but it keeps us all at the top of our game.
In addition, with the expansion of brand touchpoints comes an acceleration of consumption. We see, hear and consume more than ever before. So much so that we have begun to champion our right to what we consume, when we consume and from whom.
Without necessarily reverting to minimalist branding, less certainly can be more. Taking lessons from Nosh’s own philosophy, many brands would benefit from adopting a creative approach to “purify and nutrify”.
So how can companies establish an uncluttered brand that resonates with customers? Reinforce your core values, remove the noise and be authentic.
In a crowded marketplace where brands jostle for consumer attention with traditionally loud strategies, never forget that empty vessels make the most noise. Be smart and avoid the risk of foolish endeavour by keeping your brand succinct and pure. Listen hard and you will hear the future. It is a whisper.
Lisa Tse Ltd
24 Holborn Viaduct
T 020 7248 9248