Realize the power of simplicity

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Siegel+Gale launches the 7th annual Global Brand Simplicity Index.             

What’s the value of simplicity for the world’s leading brands? Each year we set out to answer exactly that.

What do we mean by simple? Simplicity lies at the intersection of remarkably clear and unexpectedly fresh experiences. Brands that deliver clear, human and useful experiences—win. The 2017 results are in.

From the tens-of-thousands of consumers we surveyed across the globe, we’ve learned that simplicity inspires people to spend more, drives brand loyalty, motivates employees to deliver on the brand promise—and ultimately drives financial gain for companies that embrace it.

The 2017 study, based on an online survey of more than 14,000 respondents across nine countries, ranks 857 brands on their perceived simplicity.

Key findings:

  • Simplicity earns a premium: 64 percent of consumers are willing to pay more for simpler experiences.
  • Simplicity builds loyalty: 61 percent of consumers are more likely to recommend a brand because it’s simple.
  • Complexity costs: Brands that don’t provide simple experiences are leaving an estimated share of $86 billion on the table.
  • Simplicity performs: A stock portfolio of the simplest global brands outperforms the major indexes by 330 percent.
  • Simplicity inspires: 62 percent of employees at simple companies are brand champions—versus only 20 percent of employees at complex companies.
  • Japan ranks: For the first time we included Japan in the study. The top performing brand was Yoshinoya.

While the top ten performers traverse many industries, all brands can learn from the experiences that these leaders are creating.

The 2017 Global Brand Simplicity IndexTop 10 Brands

ALDI
Topping our index for the fourth year in a row, ALDI is clearly doing something right. With its simple, consistent store layouts, ALDI offers affordable, highquality goods combined with a stress-free customer experience. Because the discount supermarket chain mostly carries exclusive products, customers don’t have to choose between the typical and sometimes overwhelming array of brands and prices.

Lidl
The secret to this global discount supermarket’s success is the simplicity of its offering: inexpensive food without sacrificing quality or taste. In the words of one survey responder, Lidl is “around the corner, with always low prices, what more could you want?” Recently, the chain proved it is a reputable source for all things delicious and quality with simple and surprising idea. The high-profile Swedish pop-up restaurant “Dill” was revealed to be serving up a menu created entirely of Lidl products and produce.

Google
Google—with its pristine and no-nonsense homepage—is synonymous with simplicity. With a user experience that is “intuitive and easy to understand” the search engine’s perfect functionality keeps users coming back again and again. But not everything is pared down: the whimsical “Google Doodles” (Google’s ever-changing logo illustrations) showcase the brand’s personality. Simplicity can come with a sense of humor after all.

Netflix
The video-streaming service has redefined the way we watch television and movies. With original high-quality shows and content that is always on-demand, Netflix “has figured out what customers want,” according to one subscriber. Channel surfing is no longer necessary.

IKEA
Known for its sleek and minimalist designs, the success of Ikea’s business model is rooted in simplicity. “Ikea gives you everything you need for your home in just one visit,” said one customer. By cutting out the middleman, Ikea makes taking furniture from the showroom shelf to the living room floor affordable easy to assemble.

Amazon
The e-commerce giant has simplified shopping to only two clicks. For customers who feel two-clicks are one too many, Amazon Dash Buttons demonstrate the brand’s commitment to innovation with a single push. Because of Amazon’s intuitive user interface and its speedy and reliable delivery system, all customers have to do is sit back, relax and wait for their orders to come to them.

KFC
Its chicken recipe is a well-kept secret, but there’s no mystery why this global quick service restaurant is in our Top 10. Customers keep coming back because of its convenience and consistency. The simple menu makes filling up as easy as 1, 2 or 3. KFC’s “tried and tested” reputation ensures that any choice will bring satisfaction.

YouTube
This online video-sharing platform snags a spot in our global Top 10 due to the simplicity of its interface. Viewers applaud YouTube’s easy navigation, intuitive user experience and powerful search function. Streaming cat videos to our desktops definitely has its benefits.

McDonald’s
With familiar menus and convenient locations, McDonald’s has always made dining simple. While the brand launched a new all-day breakfast menu, they are refocusing on simplicity. The proof? They recently cut down menu options and, in January 2016, gave their packaging a sleek and simple redesign.

SUBWAY
The secret to this restaurant’s simplicity is obvious: customers can see exactly what they’re going to get. With fast and friendly service, clear pricing and convenient in-store layouts, “all you need to do is choose what you want on your sandwich” says one diner, “and that’s not very hard.”

Global Movers and Shakers

Creating simple brand experiences is not an overnight exercise, it requires an enduring commitment to simplicity. However, each year we see some interesting shifts in rankings. Here are highlights from the 2017 study:

  • ALDI remains the simplest brand in our global ranking for the fourth year running, while competitor Lidl once again lands in the top three.
  • Yahoo! drops 37 places, demonstrating that web search isn’t always simple.
  • Dollar Shave Club and Jet.com land in the top US Disrupters—their current multi-billion-dollar valuations are further testament to the power of simplicity.
  • Insurance provider AXA just can’t seem to break out of the bottom spot, as they are the most complex brand for the second year running.
  • Health and beauty product purveyor Sephora rises 44 spots in the global ranking.
  • Global hotel chain Hilton moves up 50 spots in the global ranking.
  • EasyJet has ascended 16 spots, a smooth takeoff for a customer-focused airline.
  • Five out of six brands representing the restaurant industry are in the top 15, indicating that quick service often means simple service.

Global Disrupters

For the third year, Siegel+Gale asked people to evaluate “disruptive” brands in the US and UK. These emerging businesses are raising consumer expectations for all brands by delivering memorable, meaningful and useful brand experiences.

In the US, the top-five disrupters are Dollar Shave Club, GrubHub, Square, Spotify and Jet.com. In the UK, the top-five disrupters include OVO Energy, City Mapper, Shazam, GoPro and My Fitness Pal.

GBSI_USTopTen_Disrupters.jpg

Simplicity is at the heart of all disruptive brand’s value propositions. Much of the success of these emerging brands can be attributed to the fact that they are focused on solving customer’s pains in the simplest possible way.

To view the full report, visit: www.simplicityindex.com.

Every year we learn new lessons about the value of simplicity. There is one enduring truth: simplicity pays.

Margaret Molloy is global CMO and head of business development at Siegel+Gale. Follow her on Twitter: @MargaretMolloy

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