Growth is not something most executives will ever view negatively.
But there’s a price to pay for everything–as our companies grow, so does their complexity. More offices and employees require more communications. Added product lines and services require more messages to larger and increasingly diverse audiences. And the evolution of digital technologies means there are new touch points and more communication channels through which to reach our customers. Among the complexities of growing organizations, it’s easy for executives to lose the ability to keep things simple for customers and employees alike.
We know, however, that simplicity sells. Our research indicates that consumers are not only seeking simpler brand experiences, but they’re actually willing to pay more for them. Companies that aren’t able to keep their interactions simple are therefore leaving money on the table.
But what makes a brand simple? To find out, our agency created a diagnostic tool to help executives determine how simple their company is. The more questions you can answer a definitive “yes” to, the closer your company is to reaping simplicity’s numerous rewards.
Senior leadership is key to implementing simplicity practices at your company. If not, consider whether your company has the business case in place to demonstrate the ROI of creating simpler experiences, and to get management to rally around simplicity initiatives.
2. Do I know what our brand’s purpose is, and is it articulated in a simple, memorable, and inspiring way?
We define purpose not as what you do for you customers, but why what you do matters. Your company’s purpose must be articulated in a way that is fresh and easy for employees to internalize and to live every day. Our research has shown that there is a direct correlation between commitment to company purpose and the ability to innovate more simply.
Think about whether your company has a well-articulated and well-communicated hierarchy of messages and visual tools that speak to each of your internal audiences. These elements are required to articulate a clear company purpose and to unify employees around it.
Consider the mechanics of your organization. Is there an open floor plan and open-door policy that enables the communication and exchange of ideas?
Simple companies are focused on getting to the heart of customer needs. Consider whether your brand has the data and insights that help you understand why your customers prefer your brand over your competitors’.
Companies that deliver the experiences they promise eliminate the confusion customers experience when expectations aren’t met. Think about your customer feedback, and if your brand is viewed as authentic, truthful, and transparent in its marketing and ad campaigns.
Evaluate whether there is alignment or disconnect between how employees view your brand and its services, and how customers view them. Does what motivates your customers sync with what your employees believe is most important?
How easy is it for your customers to “shop” for your products? Consider whether your company has clearly mapped your services to customer needs. Your goal should be selling solutions to their problems–not selling products to spec.
9. Do we know the brand experiences where simplicity would be most appreciated and inspire greater loyalty?
Think about how well your company understands your customer’s journey–from purchase to consideration to evaluation, decision, and advocacy–including all touch points (for instance, in-store, mobile, tablet, and more). Can you easily prioritize these and identify at which points a simple experience is most critical for customers?
How often does your company review and reevaluate your intended customer journey? Advances in technology and digital communication mean that each year, customer options increase and their decision-making process becomes more complicated. Customer journeys must be consistently revisited and prioritized to both drive quick wins and focus your company on long-term goals, while ensuring a smooth journey for your customers.
These questions should serve as more than a simplicity checklist–they should be guiding principles for any organization. Companies that keep these questions top of mind are more likely to inject needed simplicity into employee and customer experiences, delighting both audiences and reaping the rewards of innovation, loyalty, and financial gain.
—Margaret Molloy is global chief marketing officer at Siegel+Gale, brand strategy, customer experience, and design consultants based in New York City.