We build simple brands—Because good brands are about trust, and trust shouldn’t be complicated.
There’s a lot of noise in our world. Catchy messages, new promises, bold offers, and trendy graphics surround us, competing for our attention. But a lot of these become clutter that we tune out. In a world of endless noise, littered with flashy ads and complicated messaging, simple works.
Good brands are simple brands. But before we talk about simple brands, let’s start with the basics.
What is a brand?
Every organization has a brand. Think of it like a pair of clothes–We’ve all been told to dress for the job we want before an interview. The way your brand presents itself says something about who you are, but sadly, many small businesses and nonprofits don’t have the tools or experience to authentically represent themselves in a way that breaks through the noise and genuinely connects with their audience.
Complicated brands are often built on accident. When there isn’t a clear understanding of what a brand truly is, it gets reduced down to a flashy new logo or an interesting color palette. It’s not something you can make overnight, determine on a whim, or sign off to a graphic designer. A brand embodies who you are–your mission, story, and culture. It’s the first thing your audience thinks about you, but it’s also a promise of consistency that keeps them coming back again and again.
Think of your favorite college team; whether you’re in a stadium on game day or at home in your favorite team hoodie, the love, passion, and energy you feel around that experience is consistent. Good brands are a promise because they’re built on trust.
Why simple brands?
Simple brands start with trust and don’t add unnecessary ingredients. They find out what people (their audience) want and give it to them—no strings attached. While their products or services may be complex, the customer experience is not. Simplicity isn’t just about how you live out your mission or sell your product or service, but also in how you talk about yourself and build relationships with your audience. It’s about experiences and communication–or, as we like to say, trust.
It doesn’t matter what industry you’re in, people still want simple brands. But don’t just take our word for it. Siegel+Gale, a brand experience firm, has researched brand simplicity for almost a decade. In their most recent index, they compiled their latest research, which surveyed the simplicity of hundreds of well-known brands through extensive studies of over 15,000 customers from multiple countries.
Again and again, they found that simple brands performed. Why? Because, to a lot of people, easy experiences and straightforward communication are not just an added bonus, but something that adds real value to a product or service. Siegel+Gale found that 57% of people said that they would be willing to pay more for a simpler experience and 76% said they would be more likely to recommend a simple brand.
One of these simple brands is the German grocer, ALDI. They focus on middle class shoppers who are looking for quality groceries at a good price. They only offer one or two options for most items, which keeps supply costs tighter. They know that their shoppers don’t need a lot of variety or hands-on customer service, so they deliver cheap, high-quality groceries. They keep it simple.
Not only is the experience simple for their customers, but their communication is too. Instead of getting entrenched in “keeping up” with other stores, they focus on their own unique vision for grocery shopping, inviting people to “Shop Differentli.”
How to build a simple brand
We believe good brands are experience + vision + visuals.
Experience is the soul of a brand. The visuals we usually associate with that brand are just empty vessels until they are filled with experiences. Think of your favorite brand–remember that college hoodie? It’s not actually the logo you love. it’s the experience you’ve had with the company or organization that that visual represents.
These experiences are where you build trust with your audience. Every interaction either brings you and your audience closer or drives you apart. A brand is a promise, so consistent experiences are the driver of a strong, simple brand.
A strong, consistent brand keeps their mission front and center. Many small businesses and nonprofits are born from dreams and goals. But as they grow, the demands of marketing–and the stress that comes with them–can overshadow the mission. Don’t get us wrong. There are proven strategies to grow engagement with your audience and use your resources well, but your vision is where it starts.
The secret sauce of a brand is consistent, clear visuals. While they themselves aren’t the heart of your brand, they should reflect it. Consistent use of logos, colors, photographs and visual tone remind your audience of the experiences they’ve had with your brand. Brand visuals aren’t about that quirky font or sleek logo, but about taking your audience back to their experience, your vision, and the peace of mind to trust your brand.
These three ingredients aren’t a checklist to complete, but more of a litmus test, so to speak, for brands that start with trust. Our team starts with trust too. For some organizations, the thought of building a brand–even a simple one–can be daunting. But we love to partner with and empower mission-driven people to build simple brands–
Because good brands are about trust, and trust shouldn’t be complicated.