Beauty in Simplicity: How Branding is Changing

shutterstock_324123350At its best, simplicity is beautiful. We see it in the new World Trade Center in New York, the smooth face of a premium smartphone or even in the plain red cups at Starbucks. The 21st century loves simplicity, and that’s why branding is moving so heavily in that direction — not just in look, but in the way we feel, experience and interact with companies every day.

Web Domains

There’s a new frontier in web domains for business. The .com has been around for nearly two decades, and it’s increasingly harder for new businesses to find an address that matches its brand.

But all that changed when ICANN, the company in charge of domain suffixes like .com, .org, and .net, opened up dozens of new suffixes to the public. Now anything from .vegas to .ventures is available to supplement the domains we already know.

The most popular example of creative web domains is from Google, which renamed its parent company Alphabet Inc. But instead of “alphabet.com” (already owned by a business solutions company), it registered the more clever “abc.xyz.” Yes, .xyz is one of the new suffixes from ICANN.

And while new companies scramble to claim their stake in the new frontier, others make good use of nationally dedicated suffixes like .ca, which belongs to our neighbors to the north. G1 driving school uses “G1.ca,” which might be one of the easiest domains to remember.

Design

By far the most impacted change in branding simplicity is how we physically see the companies and products we engage every day, and no one has embraced “less is more” better than Apple.

Good design is more than what Chief Design Officer Jony Ive calls “the absence of clutter.” A MacBook can be considered office decor just as much as it is a productivity or creativity tool. Even Apple’s website and commercials are beacons of simplicity that other companies have begun to imitate.

Apple is also very good at avoiding what Fast Company calls “feature-itis,” the process of continuing to add features to the brand experience, leading to chaos and confusion over time. Though much has changed with Apple since the Macintosh, the feel of its brand remains the same. Its design is responsible for much of that.

Messaging

Have you ever seen an old television ad from the 1950s or 1960s? Take a look at this 1952 Betty Crocker cake commercial. It may have been groundbreaking at the time, but the narration from beginning to end couldn’t sound more dated in 2016. Now watch Nike’s “Fate Leave Nothing”commercial, which doesn’t utter a single spoken word.

Betty Crocker sold facts — “a perfect cake every time, or your money back,” (she even tells you where to mail the letter). Nike sells emotion and leaves the facts to your imagination.

While the imagination is a complicated place to trust a message to resonate, the emotion evoked in Nike’s advertising is undeniable. It’s a trend that more companies follow in advertising, and the Betty Crocker style is as ancient as “I Love Lucy.”

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