On: May 4, 2015
Simple is good. Simple is clear. Simple works.
So why do so many businesses get wrapped up in the need for complexity in marketing and communications?
Every day we see product announcements, blog posts, news releases and more filled with reams of unnecessary detail and big fancy words to explain concepts that, if they are any good, are actually simple.
Even if the marketing or comms team wanted to keep it simple, most C-Suite people are convinced that corporate-speak is the only appropriate way for a business to communicate.
But step back — does the focus on unnecessary detail and big words make a business look more “professional”? No, not really. Yet they persevere, confusing and even discouraging their audience.
As with many things, Apple’s Steve Jobs understood the value of simple. One day a team came in to present prototype screen shots and menus for a new DVD burner. They spent weeks pulling together all the complicated and wonderful things this new DVD feature could do.
Jobs didn’t look at any of it. “He picks up a marker and goes over to the whiteboard. He draws a rectangle. ‘Here’s the new application,’ he says. ‘It’s got one window. You drag your video into the window. Then you click the button that says BURN. That’s it. That’s what we are going to make.’”
And they did. They made it simple, and it worked beautifully. People loved it.
But simple doesn’t mean easy. It’s often harder. Or in the words of Charles Bukowski, the poet laureate of America’s lowlifes, “Genius might be the ability to say a profound thing in a simple way.”
Simple explains things clearly and elegantly. It focuses more on the outcome and benefits and less on the process. It avoids big, clumsy words and replaces them with short ones. Simple means going through everything you write and taking out as many words as you can before you hit publish or print.
Simple rewards my attention by getting to the point and telling me what I really need to know or what I came to find out.
Simple is good.