Lately, our eyes are glazing over more often.
It’s not because of aggravated presbyopia. Nor hours of Web surfing. Or even our occasional trips in visual stimulation (read: shopping of all sorts).
Instead, we’re attributing that “duh” look to the ever-increasing complexity of, well, stuff. Charlie Sheen’s tour name, My Violent Torpedo of Truth, mesmerizes without saying much. Twitter handles and comments are all-too-often incomprehensible. Parsing the latest U.S. diplomat’s Middle Eastern speech to uncover possible solutions is just too taxing.
That’s true for design too. Photos and illustrations appear sans captions, and often are only somewhat relevant to the subject. New brands take into account all colors of the rainbow, yet miss the product or company’s critical essence. Web sites – ah, don’t get us started.
All we’re saying is give simplicity a chance. There’s incredible under-acknowledged power in being brief and to the point. There’s drama, too, in the understated look and feel, one that matches the brand, its attributes, and its personality. Even in the ethereal, consensus-driven business of crafting vision and mission statements, straightforward is beginning to rule.
One example, touted by trend-watcher Fortune magazine: Oracle. In an industry that’s polka-dotted with jargon and acronyms that change daily, this California company is (and we quote) “masterful at using basic messages to communicate the complicated nature of its products.” What does Oracle say about itself? “Hardware and software, engineered to work together.”
Expect, soon, an avalanche of simplification gurus, folks who’ll, for a fee, help whittle down words and pictures. If that process trues up with what you and your company stand for, great.
If not? We admit, it isn’t easy to clean up long-used language and visuals. Owners and originators can bristle, understandably so. Sometimes it involves almost literal wrestling matches with the message holders. And sometimes, it makes sense to stand aside, fold our arms, and mutter one Yiddish word. Ferblungit.*
Welcome to our world.
*[It’s simple: Get the meaning from its sound.]