Friday, November 19, 2010


Your first kiss, your first love, listening to an old song, walking in the rain, receiving a mail from an old acquaintance, watching your child sleep, watching the sunset, waking up to find you still have an hour to sleep, getting a gift that you were planning to buy, seeing your parents smile, sipping coffee in the winter sun! Guess these are just some of the moments that are our ‘bestest’ ones. Life is full of challenges, heartbreaks, pressures and tensions, but true satisfaction and long lasting happiness comes from some of the simplest things that life has to offer.

As in life, so in business, the best things are the simplest. Let’s take a closer look.


The most famous scientist who ever lived, and the person responsible for giving the most famous equation of the world: E=mc2, was, yes we all know, Albert Einstein. What made this man so famous and made his theories create the maximum impact was not just his genius in analysing things, but in his ability to explain even the most complicated theories in the simplest manner possible. Even a layman, a non-scientific brain could understand them. One of the simplest explanations of Einstein’s ‘Theory of Relativity’ was given by a young fellow, and this is what he said: “When a man sits with a pretty girl for an hour, it seems like a minute. But let him sit on a hot stove for a minute and it seems longer than an hour. That’s the crux of the Theory of Relativity.” Einstein too could simplify the various laws of physics and make everyone understand them.

We live in an “over communicated” society where an avalanche of news, messages, ads, et al, greet us every single day. If you want to stand out, you need to be simple; it’s the best way to beat the clutter.

Think of the punch line of any advertisement you like. Chances are, it will be short and simple. The most memorable advertisements have been the simplest ones.

Ask a creative guy and he will tell you how difficult it is to be simple. Simplicity is an art, and as one of the most famous artists of our times Leonardo Da Vinci said: “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” A great machine is not necessarily the most sophisticated one; it’s rather the one that’s simplest to understand by the person who will use it. The corollary? A great marketing message is the one that’s absolutely clear to the consumers. “Iodex maliye, kaam pe chaliye” is the simplest way to describe a quick-pain relief ointment. “The ultimate driving machine” best describes the pleasure that money could buy! BMW remains the world’s hottest brand. Alka Seltzer’s punch line “Plop, plop, fizz, fizz, oh what a relief it is!” made the brand an instant hit. From Nike’s “Just do it” to McDonald’s “I’m lovin it” to Coca Cola’s “It’s the real thing”, those are simple sentences that have been responsible for creating the magic and making the brand name stick in the mind of the consumers.

In today’s world, it’s of utmost importance to focus on simplicity. In fact, your future survival will depend on it. According to UNICEF, “Nearly a billion people will enter the 21st century unable to read a book or sign their names and a third of them are women.” According to the National Adult Literacy Survey (1992), some 47% of the US population demonstrated low levels of literacy. The case would not be better for most other economies. As business people, we need to understand that these are our consumers and if we really want to sell them, or tell them anything, it better be simple for them to truly understand and appreciate the message.

A simple marketing campaign, breaks through the clutter, is cost effective and works! Yes, simplicity works! Not surprising then that this year, the New York Festival, which awards the world’s best advertising campaigns, has introduced a new category “Marketing Effectiveness” which awards the simplest and most effective campaigns.

In the long run, those will be simple things that last. As Richard Bach said: “The simplest things are often the truest.” The simplest campaigns are the most honest – no wonder they work


This man is responsible for creating the world’s most competitive enterprise. When he became the CEO in 1981, its market capitalisation was $13 billion. In 2000, when Jack Welch stepped down, GE’s market cap was at $500 billion. His prescription for winning: “Have the courage to be simple.” He says keeping things simple is the key. Simple messages travel faster, simple designs work better, simple ideas impact the world and consumers more.

The world’s most successful investor and self-made billionaire, Warren Buffet, says it’s a simple business made complicated by investment advisors and analysts. His advice is simple; his way of working is simple too. He spends most of his day alone, thinking and analysing. If he wants to invest, he studies the financials himself. His advice, “Don’t follow the crowd, don’t rely on an outsider, but [do] your own research and invest in a company that has a strong foundation.” That’s the way he made his billions; not with the help of complicated models and charts but by finding good companies built on simple but strong foundations.

Simplicity is the route to success. While others were making complicated marketing strategies, this company decided to simplify the purchase process of the consumers. It took the product directly to consumers’ homes where one could see, touch, experience the product and then buy it. Dell made a fortune by just simplifying the way computers were sold. This direct marketing strategy showed the world a new and easy way of doing business.

Google would not have been such a hit so soon had it not been so simple to use. Right from the design of its page to the process, everything was kept as simple as possible.

Whoever thought something as basic and simple as a flip-flop could build a business empire and a world famous brand! Inspired by the Zori, the Japanese sandals made of fabric straps and rice straw soles, the Havaiana flip flops took the world by storm with their colorful, trendy designs and catchy slogans. Today, it is the hottest brand of Brazil. The brand has an exclusive outlet everywhere, as the ad slogan goes: “Havaianas. Everyone wears them.” Today, everybody wants to own a pair. Their product promise is simple – here is a slipper that would not lose its shape, not smell and the straps would not get loose. A simple product, a simple promise of quality and an iconic brand was born!

Nick Robertson was in the business of entertainment, but he noticed how much people loved the clothes, accessories, et al, that celebrities wore. He started a website with a simple idea of giving fans information about who was wearing what and called it ASOS (As seen on screen). Today, ASOS, not just gives info, but sells the labels that celebrities wear and its own line of clothes too! A simple business idea, snowballed into a huge profitable venture!

Tsubaki, a hair-care brand of Shiseido, saw that most beauty brands used Western models in their advertisements. Tsubaki realised that if Japanese women were supposed to buy their product, then it was best to show Japanese models. Their ad campaign did just that and showed how Japanese women were just as beautiful, if not more, than Western models. The brand, with a simple change in its strategy, won the hearts of the consumers and market share.

Facebook has changed the way people communicate, do business, advertise and search and now even send e-mails. It became a rage because of its simplicity. Just a click could get you going. This is the key to any good website too. Simple sites are not so expensive; and they even work better. Expensive ‘Flash’ sites give you no added edge. Most people don’t watch the flash and the few who do don’t do it more than once. It’s best to keep the site simple. Look at Apple’s website – its clean & clutter free. Twitter is being touted as the best designed website for its absolute simplicity.

According to the survey done by Advertising Age of the World’s Hottest Brands, two brands stood out in India, the Nano, and the Fullerton India Credit Co. Both businesses had a simple goal. The first one wanted to build a car for the common man about whom no one had thought of earlier; and the second decided to give loans to the simple, small-business owners of rural India for whom no bank had given any importance earlier. These small businessmen were scared to approach the big brands for loans, so Fullerton went to them and simplified the process. With the help of mobile vans, it went from village to village and helped in giving loans to these people to build their businesses – and in the process, they built a great brand for themselves too.

You de-cluttered your house this Diwali to make way for the goddess of wealth to enter. It’s time you did the same with your business. You need to win over your customers and the best way is to KISS them – Keep It Simple Silly. Keep your business ideas, vision statements, websites, your product design, your communication, as simple as possible, for that’s the best way to sell.


  1. Some one correctly said, "Simplicity is the best policy".

    Simple things could be the most powerful ones. When ever people talk about blogs, they talk of blogs on steroid ( Unbalanced ). But look what it did to the world, it could bring the world out of the mass media opium and brain washing and hey presto, we have a new world order where the right is understood and respected.

    Think about simple education, lots of time we learn nothing at formal institutes and universities, but sometimes an apt article in Media gives us that "Ah" moment of insight and understanding.

    The Media is a simple university. Most newspapers and magazines give lot more value than what they cost. So here is one place where the book value / Price ratio is high and the scrip still sells.

    Take the MALL. Lots of procedural hassles. Its almost like the RED TAPE shoe. Go to a smaller outlet and they show the humility to allow you in carrying something with you and out. So big Brands arenecessarily not simple but clunky and hence proves your law ma'am.

    Another very complexproduct is the marriage. Friendships are so simple and successful. Marriages a Institution.

    OK ma'am,
    Thanks for the respect you show for divergent viewpoints and including comments which are elsewhere rejected as SPAM.

    Rajeev Vashisht.

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. really it is so simple..

    gr8, knowlegable


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