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Simple: Conquering the crisis of complexity

Simple: conquering the crisis of complexity

Whether it’s a legal document, or a TV remote with a gazillion buttons, there is a desire for greater simplicity in our day-to-day lives. 

One company working and campaigning for simplicity is Siegel+Gale, and their founder and chairman emeritus Alan Siegel, and former exec. director of simplification Irene Etzkorn, have recently published Simple: Conquering the crisis of complexity’.

Alan and Irene talk about some of the challenges they’ve faced – including responding to Barrack Obama’s challenge to create a single page credit card agreement – and use examples from others who have developed services and products with the mantra of simplicity.

“It may seem counterintuitive, but in a business environment that usually hypes “more, more, more,” people increasingly are opting for less. They’re responding to products with simpler features, and food with fewer ingredients.”

‘Simple’ centres around 3 key principles – Empathise; perceive others’ needs and expectations. Distill; boil down and customise what’s being offered to meet needs. Clarify; make the offering easier to understand, use, and benefit.

The book also highlights the movement – mobilised by social media – for greater and greater transparency in the world. Picking up the baton in a war against organisations who use complexity to confuse us. We’ve all been there, right? It’s incredibly frustrating when companies – including Apple it must be said – put lengthy documents in front of us, written by lawyers in a language that’s difficult to decipher, and in a font size that’s hard to read. Does anyone have the will-power or patience to actually read them? And this is precisely what some of these companies hope for, as they get us to sign our rights away.

“Our research found that 84 percent of consumers are more likely to trust a company that uses jargon-free plain English.”

The book ends with a rallying cry for people to take up the fight for simplicity, and for consumers to demand clarity from those brands who supposedly are there to serve them.

‘Simple’ makes a fantastic case, is well thought out, and also a great read. I highly recommend it for frustrated consumers, ready to campaign against the lack of transparency in business and government; and for leaders who have the courage to fight for simplicity when the path of least resistance perpetuates complexity.


You can purchase ‘Simple: Conquering the crisis of complexity’ from Amazon, or visit their website

Alan Siegel and Irene Etzkorn now head up Siegelvision, a brand strategy and communications consultancy helping clients clarify their purpose, energize their brands, and motivate their audiences.


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One comment

  • Merlin U Ward says:

    This is a great concept, and certainly not a new one either, but it bares repeating! There are so many slogan around simplicity and I think we keep needed to repeat them because people are still not doing it.

    This applies beyond marketing as well. Entrepreneur are often burdened with figuring out the simplest way of describing their product – 30 second pitches, etc.

    If a company can go through the practice of describing its products in the simplest way, and a marketing team can reiterate that, the two things happen.

    1. The company will realize how much useless crap it is concentrating on and focus on the most important. This has profound effects on efficiency as well.
    2. The customer is happier because the company is only making what they need and, as you stated, they are no longer confused by offerings or the messages in which they are wrapped.

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