When I say the word “simple,” what comes to mind?
Do you think of minimalism or black and white? Or those cute capsule wardrobes? Or maybe you equate “simple" with “easy."
What if I told you that, at its core, simplicity is none of those things? Those may be the result of simplicity, but they are not the starting point.
If you’d like to understand what simplicity REALLY is and how to achieve it in your brand (& your life), then keep reading.
Simple does NOT mean plain, empty, and boring. It’s not about monochromatic colors or 10-piece wardrobes. And unfortunately it's rarely ever easy. In fact, making something simple often takes a lot of effort. It’s more strategic than just keeping stuff out or paring back.
Simple isn’t about where we start. Simple is what we get at the end.
It’s the natural result when every element has:
Whether it’s your brand, your closet, or your kitchen counter, simple is the happy ending of having purpose and order to the space. Yes, this has the added benefit of creating a clean and uncluttered result, but it’s really a bit like thinking in reverse. For example, instead of designing a logo and then taking elements out once you realize it’s gotten busy and cluttered, and “oh my gosh, what happened,” start by being more mindful of what you’re putting in, and only add elements that serve a purpose and are important.
There is beauty in simplicity. Instinctively we know it. We see photos of beautiful rooms, so uncluttered compared to our own homes. I love how peaceful my kitchen looks when I get rid of the mail, keys, charger cables, screwdrivers, and receipts that are scattered all over the counter. (Our new kitchen reno certainly helps too, but that’s for another post!) In reality, that clutter contributes nothing to nourishing and nurturing myself, my family, and others which are the real purpose and importance of the space. It doesn’t belong there and should be removed.
This same strategy applies to creating a noteworthy design. Everything that doesn’t fulfill a purpose or clarify your message should be edited out. The extra colors and swirls and that fourth (or fifth) font? Please just say “no.” In essence, your design then becomes a peaceful, inviting, beautiful space.
One of the most reliable ways to execute this in branding is to take the time to carefully choose your brand elements. If you’re trying to DIY, I recommend a simple 1-2-3 solution: 1 primary logo - 2 fonts - 3 colors. And then stick to them! For materials that you produce on a regular basis (social media posts, sales sheets, forms like quotes and invoices), simplify your process and set up a template so that each piece is consistent. It will also save you time (yea!) by not having to reinvent the wheel with each new project.
Did you know that when I create mood boards for my clients at the very beginning of every branding process, I often start with over 100 images? Yup, 100+.
Do you know how many end up on the final board? 8. That’s it. Just 8! My client usually doesn’t even see the others.
It’s hard to let go of lots of those images because they’re beautiful, meaningful, or say something unique. It takes time to sort through and be decisive. But when I get strategic about the purpose and mission of that particular business, it can always be summed up in just 8 carefully chosen photos. So are the other 90+ photos a waste of time or energy? Absolutely not. They are part of the journey, stepping stones that get us to the very best, clearest final result.
We all know that magazines and social media feeds are only a curated version of someone’s real life. They don’t usually show the dishes in the sink or socks on the floor. BUT SO IS YOUR BRAND! It needs to be the very best curated version of all the hard behind-the-scenes work that goes into your business. It will boost your confidence and increase your credibility to your clients every time. It may be that ever-important first impression, so make it count!
So how do we carry over this simplicity into our everyday lives?
If you have students in your home or are a student yourself, you likely just completed what I consider the most grueling month of the year – September. The month when everything begins again, only it’s always different from last September. New schedules. New activities. New routines. New friends. Plus we get to throw in a couple birthdays and an anniversary just to make sure it’s a little extra crazy! It can all get rather cluttered and overwhelming. Even though we carefully edit our activities, September is still enough to make me want to crawl in a hole sometimes! As we look at our calendars, we try to be selective and keep things as simple as we can for our family. Then it becomes easier for us to say “no” and “yes” to the right things.
If you struggle in this Autumn season too, ask yourself: what is the purpose of each activity I'm doing? How important is it? Edit out the other things that do not serve the bigger purpose of your life (or your family’s life) so that you can enjoy more of the things that truly fill you up.
And accept that there are seasons that are naturally busier. That is the reality of “doing life” with people and work we love. And that’s ok as long as there are also seasons of rest.
What do you do in your business or personal life to keep things simple? I’d love to hear! I'm sending you a K.I.S.S. and a reminder to Keep It Simple, Sweetheart!
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