The Power of Simplicity


Looking at politics through the lens of communication theory reveals a lot of good lessons. For example, despite a recent uptick, the falling approval ratings of President Obama ( coincide with the increasing complexity of his message to the American public.

He swept to victory with simple concepts, CHANGE and HOPE–or “CHOPE” as one of colleagues calls it. This simplicity was embodied in the iconic high-contrast red and blue poster of candidate Obama.

But since being elected, the increased complexity of things has muddied and muted his popularity. No doubt, the realities of the job and the problems of the country provided instant complexity; but the administration’s inability to provide a clear, crisp message on many issues, it’s embrace of multiple initiatives, and its failure to provide a simple message for the country’s direction are weighing it down with John Kerry-like complexity.

While the president and his staff languish in the weeds of complexity, the his detractors like Rush Limbaugh gain traction with simple—even simplistic—concepts and criticism. They are winning the battle of complexity vs. simplicity.

This is not a political blog, merely an effort to learn a lesson from the political sphere about simplicity’s inevitable triumph over complexity.

In marketing, the simplest, fastest path to getting a point across is usually the winner.

A great headline and short pithy text in an ad.

Video that can tell a whole story in 30 seconds or better yet, 15 seconds.

A billboard with fewer than five words. Preferably none.

These are the winners in today’s attention-deficit-driven marketing environment.

Simple sells. Complexity kills.


(C) 2009 David Heitman. All rights reserved.    303-665-8101