Simple Brands Are More Successful

Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, said, “This is the most focused company I know of, am aware of, or have any knowledge of. We say no to good ideas every day so that the company can keep its focus on a small number of areas.”

Tim Cook then made a sweeping claim. Pointing at a boardroom table, he said that Apple’s product line could fit on this table “and we had revenue last year of $40 billion.”

Cook made these statements in 2010. The iPad was just announced, and Apple was booming from the iPhone. That was the start of an epic growth spurt. By 2016, Apple’s revenue had increased almost six times to $215.6 billion, but Tim Cook’s claim is still true. Apple’s product line can still fit on a boardroom table. Apple is ruthless about creating a simple, focused brand.

Focus is a defining criteria to grow a Sticky Brand. The most successful companies in the world are highly focused.

Serve a Need Brilliantly

The greatest brands make life simple,” writes Margaret Molloy, CMO of Siegel+Gale. “Think Google, Amazon, or even Dunkin’ Donuts. They cut through the clutter by delivering what consumers want, when they want it, without hassle.”

Each brand Margaret listed is immediately identifiable.

Google is known for search. It helps you find information and get directions. Sure, Google does more than that, but we know it as the place to find stuff. This fits the company’s mission, “Organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”

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Amazon is the world’s largest online retailer. It’s where you go to buy anything. Amazon’s mission is “to be Earth’s most customer-centric company for four primary customer sets: consumers, sellers, enterprises, and content creators.” Amazon is brilliant at connecting people and companies to make purchases.

Dunkin’ Donuts is where you get a coffee and a donut. The company proclaims it is “America’s favorite all-day, everyday stop for coffee and baked goods.” Again, the brand is positioned to be universally understood and to serve a very clear need.

The simplicity of each brand gives it power. According to the Siegel+Gale Global Brand Simplicity Index, simplicity strengthens a brand in measurable ways:

  • 63% of consumers are willing to pay more for a simpler experience.
  • 69% are more likely to refer a brand that provides a simpler experience.
  • Most astonishingly, the top 10 brands of the Index have beaten the average global stock index by 214% between 2009 to 2014.

In a noisy world, focus and simplicity go a long way to drive competitive advantage.

Easy to Understand, Easy to Refer

The first Principle of my book, Sticky Branding, is Simple Clarity. Simple Clarity is the ability to describe your brand and what makes it unique in ten words or less.

Leading with Simple Clarity in the book was a deliberate decision, because if you’re going to read just one Principle it better be Simple Clarity. The reason is generalists brands are not fairing well in the digital marketplace.

Ryan Hanley says it more bluntly, “Google has killed the generalist … When a consumer goes to Google with their problem, question, or need they want THE BEST solution and they are pissed when a search result doesn’t provide the best solution. So Google doesn’t show anything other than what it believes to be the best solution.”

Your customers don’t have time to sort out your services and what makes them different. They don’t have the bandwidth or interest to do this level of research. They just want to work with a company that is easy to understand and makes their lives a little bit easier.

Companies that are very bold and deliberate in what they do stand out, and customers love them for it.

To position your brand answer three questions:

  1. Your company is …
  2. Your company does …
  3. Your company serves …

Without adding any puffery or value propositions just answer each question with a short, factual statement.

Think like Google:

  1. What is your company’s (or product or service) category? How do people understand what you do?
  2. What services do you provide? What problems do you solve? When should a customer call you?
  3. Who do you serve better than anyone else? If you were to just serve one group of customers who would they be?

The more clearly you can answer these questions, the better your brand positioning will be. You will have Simple Clarity and that’s what customers crave.

Take on the Giants with Simple Clarity

Simplicity and focus are driving innovation.

The most disruptive brands in our marketplace are very clear on what they do:

  • Uber gets you to where you want to go.
  • Spotify provides you all the music you want when you want it.
  • GoPro helps you capture moments that excite you.

Each of these companies are pioneering new industries (creating new categories and subcategories), and they do it with Apple-like focus.

Achieving this degree of focus and clarity is not easy, but it is a key ingredient to growing a Sticky Brand. The more simple you can make your brand the more competitive it becomes. It gives you a focal point to attack the giants of your industry, and it gives consumers a reason to come back again and again.