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Successful brands are simple brands: we rank the top 10

If you want to make the most of your brand, keep it simple. This is according to the latest research from branding firm Siegel+Gale, which found that nearly two-thirds (64%) of consumers are willing to pay more for simpler experiences and that 61% are more likely to recommend a brand because it’s simple. This does not mean brands should be boring. The research highlights how innovative “disruptive” brands succeed by delivering memorable, meaningful and useful brand experiences. In the UK, the top disrupters include OVO Energy, City Mapper, Shazam, GoPro and My Fitness Pal.

So what exactly is a simple brand? Rana Brightman, strategy director at Siegel+Gale, explains: “Simplicity, as part of a brand’s overall customer experience delivery, can be anything from providing clear, concise product information, saving time with quick-and-easy transaction processes to seamless post-purchase that doesn’t complicate proceedings. It’s all about removing friction and pain points from everyday experiences and turning them into moments of delight for the customer. Brands that deliver clear, human and useful experiences – win.”

Discussing brands which fail to keep their messages straightforward, Brightman says that in the UK, airline brands are getting it wrong: “Easyjet and Ryanair are examples of how even the most basic ideas can become embroiled with hidden terms and conditions. In the minds of many consumers, they have become masters of complexity, concealing true costs of tickets and drawing people to a stage in the booking process where it’s easier to go on than turn back.”

Other brands, however, are masters at keeping their branding clear and consistent. Brightman says: “There are perennially simple brands. Aldi, for instance, remains the simplest brand in our global index for the fourth year running, but brands can jump and drop radically. Hilton has moved up 50 spots this year. Although many people embrace ‘disruptor brands’ in the sector who reimagine the experience such as Airbnb, what consumers like with an established brand such as Hilton is that you know exactly what you are getting wherever you may be in the world. Consumers trust brands with heritage and value the comfort and security a brand like Hilton provides.”

Once you have established a clear identity, this does not mean you can relax, says Brightman. “Even the most simple brands can’t rest on their laurels. Growth has a way of breeding complexity in business. Whether it happens overnight or over time, through mergers and acquisitions or a proliferation of products, brands can become more complex for customers to deal with. Often people ask us why Apple doesn’t rank higher. Although still a lucratively popular brand, Apple offers a simple user experience, yet the lack of compatibility with products from other manufacturers and broadening product and services generates growing confusion around the brand.” 

So if you want to mine your brand, then the really clever strategy is to not be too clever. Simplicity sells.


To determine the global state of simplicity, Siegel+Gale fielded an online survey with more than 14,000 respondents in nine countries to gather perspectives on simplicity and how industries and brands make people’s lives simple or more complex. 

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