The power of simplicity in brand messaging

Estimated reading time
6 minutes
6th July 2022
Author: Ryan Gould
Posted in: Content Production, Customer Insights, Sales, Strategy & Planning

Today we’re taking a closer look at why brands tend to overcomplicate their messaging, examples of those who are getting it right, and the steps you can take to simplify your brand message to drive results. 

Have you ever had that one friend who seems to want to prove just how smart they are in every single conversation? You know the one. It’s the friend who chooses the most complicated way possible to say something that should have been a few words at most. 

How does a conversation with them leave you feeling? If you’re like most, you feel lost, talked down to, and probably a bit exhausted.

Are you sure your brand isn’t ‘that’ friend?

You spend valuable time and resources on perfecting your messaging as a brand. The last thing you want is for it to go over your target market’s heads or, worse, to insult them.

So how can you be sure your brand’s copy and content gets the point across, resonates with your audience, and drives results? 

The answer lies in a commonly used design principle: KISS. While KISS originally stood for “Keep it Simple, Stupid,” we like the friendlier version better — “Keep it Super Simple.” 

statistic to encourage companies to simplify brand messagingKeep Your Brand Message Simple (But Don’t Dumb it Down)

It’s not that brands intend to make things complicated. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Instead, brands want to show off their unique selling proposition (USP) and how they’re different from the competition.

To set themselves apart, many brands make the mistake of trying to showcase how clever they and their products or services are. In an attempt to position themselves as the expert, however, many brands lose focus of what’s important – their target market.

Regardless of industry, your potential customers likely don’t care how smart you sound in your website copy. They don’t care that you’ve mastered the use of multisyllabic words, and they definitely don’t care about how much industry jargon you know.

This holds true even in academia or in highly complex, technical verticals. There is a big difference between marketing messages and research documents or technical papers. Effective marketing messages must connect with the consumer emotionally while still remaining professional enough to appeal to a grown adult.

That delicate balance typically exists somewhere near an 8th-grade reading level, not the reading level of a post-doctoral fellowship.

Before you worry about insulting your customers by talking down to them, however, know that it’s not about dumbing down your message at all. Instead, it’s about being clear, concise, and relatable. When you focus on communicating simply, your message will be more impactful and better received.

statistic to encourage companies to simplify brand messaging

Understand Your Target Market

It’s critical to understand who your target customer truly is and where they are likely at in the buyer’s journey before crafting your messaging. For example, someone in the awareness stage won’t care about the same messaging as someone ready to make a purchase.

After all, if you try to be everything to everyone with your messaging, you run the risk of being nothing to no one.

Messaging for a prospect in the awareness phase might look something like this:

  • “Are you interested in learning about the latest trends in fashion? Check out our new blog post!”

On the other hand, messaging for a customer who has moved further down the funnel and is ready to purchase might look more like this:

  • “Hurry and take advantage of our seasonal sale before it ends!”

Both are simple, compelling messages, but they are very different. The first message appeals to someone’s interests, while the second message creates a sense of urgency. Neither is right or wrong, but they both need to be appropriate for where that person is in their buyer’s journey.

statistic to encourage companies to simplify brand messagingFollow the Lead of These 8 Brands That Get Simplified Messaging Right

Keeping your messaging simple doesn’t mean that you need to use childish language. Instead, it means using the simplest words possible to get your point across while still connecting with your reader on an emotional level.

It’s been said that the average person has the attention span of a goldfish. With the constant barrage of media messages we’re bombarded with on a daily basis, it’s no wonder we assume attention spans are getting shorter.

To cut through the noise and connect with your audience, you must ensure your message is clear. The great thing about simplicity in brand messaging is that it allows you to focus on what’s really important and connect with your reader on a deeper level.

Take your value proposition, for example. Your value proposition is the heart of your brand message. It’s a clear statement that outlines what you do, who you do it for, and how you’re different, and it’s critical to keep it simple enough that anyone can understand it, even if they’re unfamiliar with your brand or product.

A great value proposition doesn’t try to be clever or cutesy – it plainly states what you have to offer and why someone should care.

Take these examples from some popular brands:

  • Wix.com – “The easiest way to make a website.”
  • Uber – “Get a ride in minutes. Or become a driver and earn money on your schedule.”
  • Netflix – “Watch anywhere, anytime, on an unlimited number of devices. Sign up for free.”

As you can see, each of these value propositions is short, sweet, and to the point. They don’t try to impress or do anything more than make it painstakingly clear what the company is about, and that’s precisely what makes them so effective.

Simplicity also extends to your brand’s slogan, and these big-name brands are hitting the mark:

Even KISSmetrics, which focuses on in-depth marketing analytics, keeps its message extraordinarily simple, focusing on what its product empowers the consumer to do (make better marketing decisions). That empowering message not only leaves readers feeling capable, confident, and hopeful. It also makes it extremely clear how the product will positively impact their lives. 

So what do all of these examples have in common? They’re concise, don’t try to be something they’re not, and don’t try to overcomplicate their message.

a complex brainstorm in contract to simplified brand messaging

How to Simplify Your Brand Message

Customers are craving simplicity in a world filled with choices and overwhelming amounts of information. They don’t want to be bombarded with a complex sales pitch or overwhelmed with fancy words they don’t understand. Instead, they want brands that communicate in a way that’s relatable, easy to understand, and doesn’t require a lot of mental energy to parse through.

The best way to simplify your brand messages is to keep them focused on a single idea or solution. When in doubt, always err on the side of simplicity, and seek to strike an emotional nerve.

Here are a few tips for writing simpler brand messages:

  • Use plain language that everyone can easily understand. Shoot for an 8th-grade reading level.
  • Keep sentences short (under 20 words) and paragraphs even shorter. Large walls of text on your website make your content difficult to read.
  • Focus on one idea or solution per message. Instead of trying to overload your readers and make them feel all the things, pick one key emotion, whether it’s fear of missing out (FOMO) or a feeling of empowerment, and play to that.
  • Avoid industry jargon. Relying heavily on industry jargon can leave your readers feeling lost and unlikely to want to reach out and engage.

Simplicity should be a key consideration in every aspect of your brand messaging, from the language you use to the overall design of your website and marketing materials.

Final Thoughts

In today’s fast-paced, constantly evolving world, customers are craving simplicity from the brands they interact with. Simplicity also allows customers to connect with your brand on an emotional level.

When you focus on making complex topics easy to digest and highlighting the human element of your brand, you create a connection that can be hard to come by in today’s crowded marketplace.

If you want your brand messaging to resonate, keep it focused and easy to understand. And, most importantly, don’t try to be something you’re not. Instead, be authentic, relatable, and most importantly, true to your brand.


Ryan Gould

Ryan Gould, Vice President of Strategy and Marketing Services at Elevation Marketing

​​From legacy Fortune 100 institutions to inventive start-ups, Ryan brings extensive experience with a wide range of B2B clients. He skillfully architects and manages the delivery of integrated marketing programs, and strongly believes in strategy, not just tactics, that effectively align sales and marketing teams within organizations.

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