How to Embrace Simplicity Just Like Apple

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Simplicity takes work.

Ad executive Ken Segall is the man responsible for one of the most recognisable branding initiatives of the last century. Yet he is quick to downplay the fact that he gave the technology world a new vocabulary, simply by naming Apple’s comeback computer the iMac (Steve Jobs hated it at first, FYI). Here, Ken talks us through the simplification of business; he describes simplicity as “one of the most deceptive concepts on earth” for mastering it actually takes plenty of work.

1. Commit

“Bringing simplicity into a company isn’t a part-time job,” says Ken. “Simplification requires more energy than you might imagine. If yours is a small company, simplification is something you can manage yourself. If you’re part of a bigger organisation you’ll likely need a team. Will management stand by the decision, even if these decisions ruffle some feathers?”

2. Observe

Take a cold hard look at your company’s organisation, processes and customer experience. Required equipment: eyes, ears and a notepad. (Steve Jobs talked to people inside and outside the company and took plenty of notes.) Have processes become too complicated? Is the decision-maker part of the process, or are they hearing thoughts second hand?

3. Empathise

As the simplifier-in-chief, put yourself in your customers’ shoes. If you’re brutally honest it’s not hard to spot complexities that tarnish their experience. Is the journey consistent – before, during and after a purchase? Is your market focused, or are your customers getting too many messages? Does your website invite visitors to follow an instinctual path?

4. Clarify

Too much choice can do more harm than good. Ideally, you make every product because you should, rather than because you can. Offering fewer choices doesn’t make you less of a company. On the contrary, it can convince customers you truly understand their needs.

5. Streamline

Many companies dilute their marketing efforts by splitting their audience into too many segments. Are you trying to say too many things to too many people? Can you concentrate your resources on a single, bold message?

6. Trust yourself

Those who lead by simplicity show confidence in their own instinct.

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