Keep It Simple
The Power of Clean Design
Short and sweet is a principle that should also be applied to creative design, where less can mean more.
“If I had more time, I would have written a shorter letter” is a quote attributed to a wide range of people, from Blaise Pascal to Churchill. Although the author remains unknown, its popularity shows how relevant it is. In this article we explain that overcomplicated solutions may be detrimental to your brand, and why clean and simple creative design is always more efficient.
Directly translated from German (“Weniger, aber besser”), the expression “less but better” was coined by Dieter Rams, the industrial designer that made Braun a worldwide success in the fifties.
In his opinion, beauty and simplicity are intrinsically linked, an idea he developed in his ten “good design” principles. Rams’s approach prioritised functionality over aesthetics, keeping the products always intuitive and easy-to-use.
The same view was reinforced in 1960, when the US Navy introduced the KISS principle, stating that most systems are far more efficient if they are kept simple rather than made complicated. Depending on the version, KISS stands for “Keep it short and simple”, “Keep it simple and straightforward” or even “Keep it Simple, Stupid”.
To help their clients succeed, some creative agencies believe that it’s necessary to be transgressive. The result is that they end up delivering solutions that are excessive and, even worse, don’t meet the brand’s needs.
Sometimes being a more conservative designer may be far more effective. The evolution of Google’s logo is a very illustrative example. Rather than insisting on complicating it, in every new version they looked for a simpler design. As the company grew and reached international recognition, their logo became cleaner. The result is a solution that is recognised all over the world.
You can read about the history of the iconic Google logo here
The success of brands like Ikea or Apple reinforces this idea: delivering products whose aesthetic is a consequence of their functionality. At The Covey Agency we agree that, in creative design, the simplest solutions are the most unforgettable ones.
If you’d like to know more about simple solutions for creative design, this page explains why the 100 most famous logos of all time visually work. Each description is no longer than four lines. They’ve kept it short and sweet.
Keeping your design simple does not mean that it has to be boring or devoid of anything interesting. What are the main goals and objectives of the brand or project you are working on? This is a question which has to be addressed. Design always needs to communicate the intent clearly and concisely, so users will get the information they want quickly.
We tend to believe that the best ideas are new, but clean design is an old approach. Leonardo da Vinci already talked about it in the fifteenth century, stating that “simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”
Difficulty may be offputting
With more and more competitors every day, keeping it simple can be the key to make your company stand out from the crowd. For example, difficult-to-navigate websites affects the lead generation of a brand, and even the bounce route, with an impact on Google rankings.
On the other hand, simplicity doesn’t have to involve careless or poor design. When creating your design, think of the long-term effectiveness. Picking the latest “trend” only because it’s popular could also mean rebranding your business in the future once the fad has past.