In today’s rapidly evolving market—a world riddled with complexity—simplicity has emerged as a driving force behind successful brand experiences. Head of Strategy, EMEA, Rishi Dhir, delves into the concept of brand experience and unveils why the best brand experiences have simplicity at their core. Below he provides practical guidance for Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs) seeking to harness the potential of brand experience, shedding light on its transformative power and offering insights into successful brands that have embraced simplicity.
As the world spins ever-faster on its axis of complexity and our lives become increasingly saturated with choice, noise and data, a single truth stands clear: simplicity isn’t just an idea—it’s a strategic imperative.
Brands that simplify our day-to-day by focusing on the core of their offering, stripping away extraneous detail and executing elegantly with a ‘customer-first’ mindset; are those that find success. This intentional effort to simplify results in easy-to-grasp solutions, straightforward interactions and clear communication, elements that not only drive brand salience but also create brand value.
Indeed, our World’s Simplest Brands report reveals that 57% of consumers are willing to pay more for simpler experiences and 76% are more likely to recommend brands that deliver on it.
Simplicity then, is a crucial lever for commercial success and a priority for CMOs looking to create value in the modern age, particularly when it comes to brand experience.
Simplicity transforms customer experience.
Brand experience can be thought of as the sum of all the interactions a brand has with its customers, physical and digital, functional and emotional. Winning brands obsessively search for ways to make the experience as simple and compelling as possible at every point in the customer journey.
Designing experiences through the lens of simplicity doesn’t mean making them bland, generic or devoid of personality—quite the opposite. Brands that design for simplicity strip away the superfluous, tune out the ‘background noise’ and capture the attention of their audiences more fully, in turn creating room for their character to shine through more brightly. They bring a sharper focus to the moments that matter. They find ways to do things differently and distinctively, using brand as a design principle.
Tesla, Stripe and Octopus Energy are three cases in point. Each has embraced the philosophy of radical simplicity to reimagine their respective customer journeys through the lens of brand to transform the most critical moments—those that correlate with choice, memorability and loyalty. As a result, they have created considerable customer and commercial value. Let’s take a closer look.
Whatever your opinion of Elon Musk, there’s no doubt that with Tesla, he has created a paradigm-shifting brand built with simplicity in mind.
The difference is felt from the outset. Tesla has done away with traditional dealerships, encouraging customers to buy online. Options are simplified to the extreme, pricing is straightforward, and paperwork is all but eliminated, creating a stress-free buying experience. Orders can be completed in a matter of minutes.
The ownership experience has been reimagined too. Tesla’s minimalist cockpit is a departure from the complexity of more traditional interiors. A single, large touchscreen dominates the dashboard, offering a clean interface, reducing cognitive load and allowing drivers to focus on the road. Over-the-air updates expand the car’s functionality and solve bugs, reducing the frequency of visits to service centers. Customer support is streamlined through the app, with scheduling services and mobile service technicians.
Tesla’s emphasis on simplicity is not just about stripping away complexity for the sake of it. It’s about enhancing the customer experience and building something altogether different that reflects the brand’s (and Elon’s) ‘challenge everything’ mindset. And the strategy appears to be paying off: Tesla’s customer satisfaction scores regularly top industry charts, and the brand’s Net Promoter Score, a key indicator of customer loyalty, stood at a healthy 96 in 2023.
Stripe, the fintech company founded by Irish entrepreneurs Patrick and John Collison, has revolutionized the digital payment processing industry using the power of simplicity.
Unlike traditional banking and payment solutions, Stripe offers a remarkably streamlined onboarding process, enabling businesses to start processing payments quickly and effortlessly. Their user-friendly platform supports over 135 currencies and various payment methods, simplifying integration and management for businesses of all sizes. With an emphasis on user-friendly APIs, Stripe has become a top choice among developers worldwide. Their commitment to excellent customer support, with 24/7 assistance and comprehensive resources, enhances the overall experience. The resulting agility of its product ecosystem means that Stripe’s entrepreneurial ethos lives and breathes through its brand and customer experience.
These efforts have driven Stripe’s rapid expansion, with millions of businesses in over 120 countries using their services. The company’s remarkable success, reaching a payment volume of over $500 billion and a valuation of $160 billion in 2023, highlights the profound impact of Stripe’s simplicity-driven approach on customer experience and global business growth. It demonstrates that simplicity is a catalyst for creating value, improving user experiences, and achieving business success in a complex and competitive industry.
Octopus Energy stands out for its excellent brand experience by focusing on the customer at every step. Their straightforward and transparent pricing models make it easy for customers to understand exactly what they’re paying for without any hidden fees or complex contracts.
Moreover, they are committed to providing renewable energy solutions, appealing to environmentally conscious consumers. With innovative technology, such as smart meters and real-time usage tracking, customers can easily manage their energy consumption. The company’s top-notch customer service and active community engagement further reinforce its positive reputation.
Octopus Energy’s quirky brand personality and support of ethical causes, make them a trusted and customer-friendly energy provider. Switching to their services is hassle-free, completing the package of an exceptional brand experience.
But achieving simplicity isn’t easy.
These brands make simplicity look easy. The truth is, it’s anything but. Creating elegant experiences that make customers’ lives simpler and better whilst at the same time setting the brand apart from peers requires rigor, creativity and commercial thinking in equal part.
Rigorously identify opportunities
It all starts with a robust understanding of target customers, what their journeys look like and what matters most to each group. Whilst segmentation, ethnography and customer journey mapping are well-worn tools in any marketer’s toolkit, many businesses struggle to extract the value they need from them. Yet they serve as a formidable trio and delivered well, will provide a strong bedrock of insight on which to embark on any experience-led brand transformation.
Collectively, they should be designed to deliver insight at both the category and brand level, identifying the moments and interactions that matter to existing and aspirational future customer groups. They should pinpoint opportunities to simplify and improve their lives, as well as inject more brand personality into their overall experience. Ultimately, they should provide a clear framework that aligns the business around where, when and how critical moments and interactions should evolve to move the needle on customer experience and commercial performance.
Creatively develop concepts
Armed with a clear foundation of insight, the next step is to develop a rich set of brand experience concepts that tackle the identified opportunities. This is the time to get creative. It’s important not to limit ideation to existing category solutions but rather to think expansively, laterally and imaginatively about how the experience could be improved. Seeking inspiration from other categories and finding ways to translate and transplant what they do is a natural first step. Using creative workshop techniques to unlock the inventiveness of the marketing organization is another. What should emerge from this process is a long set of well-developed experience concepts that tie to identified opportunities, ranging from incremental fixes to radical shifts.
Commercially prioritize actions
The final stage is to take the long list of ideas and put them through the mill, stress-testing them, filtering them and getting to a short list of implementable directions. This is where strategy, marketing and operations come together to sort the “low-hanging fruit” and the “big bets” from the “money pits.” A structured approach is essential to guide decision-making and it’s important that the voice of the customer is not completely drowned out.
In pursuing excellence, we are ready to collaborate with visionary marketing leaders to shape simple brand experiences that leave a lasting impact. Together, let us embark on a journey of simplicity, innovation and surprise, crafting a future where brands thrive by captivating the hearts and minds of their audience.