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Make it simple, but significant

Updated: May 10, 2019

I used to have this quote as a wallpaper on my iPhone for something like 2-3 years.

Make it simple, but significant - Don Draper (Mad Men quote)

Aside from Don's philanderous sociopathic character as a high-flying ad-man, I fondly started thinking about this elegant quote again the other day. Mainly because I’m rewatching Mad Men at the moment but this notion of "make it simple, but significant" feels like it must have embedded itself in my head subconsciously from those years on my phone wallpaper.

I've since realised that I have been implementing this idea on a day-to-day level in my branding and design work as it seems to have become part of my design style to create minimal logo forms and brand identities since starting G’day Frank.

In itself, it’s a simplistic idea, but when translated into any form of creative or entrepreneurial pursuit, the concept has pure merit in finding the best way to un-complicate our great and complex ideas. To let us take a step back and deliver it in the simplest of ways for our 🎯 target audience to understand.

Before I started G’day Frank I used to work in television production for many years and any time we developed a new game show, the level of detail involved could be totally overwhelming. What we needed to do was basically break down the concept into easy to understand steps, much like an IKEA instruction manual.

This is why game shows like Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, Family Feud and Deal Or No Deal have made a significant impact in hundreds of countries... have you seen Slumdog Millionaire?

I also came across this quote from yesterday by Nicholas Petersen, an Icelandic designer that wrote a profound philosophical online post back in 2013 that said:

"Good design is finding a solution to a problem. Great Design is finding the simplest solution to the same problem."

I can see where I align with this notion in addition to Don Draper’s “make it simple, but significant”, as I'm generally tasked with the objective of translating the vision my clients have into designed solutions. Solutions that require the least amount of communication needed to avoid over-complicating an idea for their consumers to understand it in an instant. After all, less is more... right?

This might be for your logo where the simplest of forms are easier to recognise. Or simplifying a lengthy and detailed restaurant menu that, when presented thoughtfully, won't end up giving your customers a headache when trying to choose a dish.

PPD People logo mark

This mark I developed for Pettit Pharma & Device Search as part of their identity for PPD People, is an example of the minimalist style I’ve come to develop when creating identifiable marks for my clients. It was designed to symbolise the core function of their temporary recruitment business - searching for ‘people you can count on’. And yes, very similar colours to G'day Frank.

Symbolism has been an effective way of communicating information for centuries as it aids us to quickly identify and understand information quicker and more of it at one time. Just the same as an emoji 😎in an SMS message or a green light on a traffic signal, when we see the Golden Arches we know what this symbol represents and what it uniquely means to us.

Apart from their food, youthful service and their globally recognised McDonald's packaging, the Golden Arches could also remind you of a memory. Like the one I have of my 7th birthday party at McDonald's, or the traditional pit stops to refuel and grab a Coke and fries on road trips up the coast with my wife.

It’s these simple but significant marks that allow us to connect with our customers at their first glance, without bombarding them full of information overload and allow them to form their own meaningful connections with our businesses.

Though for all of us as business owners, this sentiment lies in the fact that we all want to build brands out of our businesses that stand out from the crowd and create significant change in the lives of our consumer.

But if our message, our identity and the product or service of our businesses are hard to recognise and understand or make no significant impact on those we chose to serve by adding great value, we are going to find it harder and harder to sell what we do and in turn succeed.

So next time that brilliant idea that we believe will help others pops into our head - our key to success is to remind ourselves to thoughtfully consider how we can turn that idea into a simple, but significant product or service that charms the pants off our customers... figuratively, not literally like Don would.


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