This article originally appeared in ANA.
For brand builders, the world has never been more complex. And more than 15,000 consumers agree.
Now in its tenth edition, World’s Simplest Brands — Siegel+Gale’s hallmark study — asks thousands of consumers in nine countries to rank 800+ brands and 25 industries according to how simple or complex they are.
Since its launch in 2010, the study has consistently determined the global state of simplicity. This latest edition proves that, now more than ever, how brands rank depends on the experiences they deliver. And delivering simple experiences — those characterized as easy to understand, transparent and honest, caring for and meeting consumer needs, innovative and fresh, and useful — is rewarded the world over.
Lidl led the global rankings, followed by Google and Amazon to round out the top three. In the ten editions of World’s Simplest Brands, consumers have rewarded these three brands, in particular. Lidl has been in the Global Top 10 in six editions. Google has been in the top three in nine editions. And Amazon has been in the Global Top 10 in seven editions.
All the top-performing brands are beacons of simplicity, proving that simplicity is not one-size-fits-all, considering they have excelled at crafting distinct, brand experiences in their respective industries.
Consumers reward simplicity
Year after year, the findings in World’s Simplest Brands show that simplicity drives business growth. Since 2009, a portfolio comprised of the publicly traded world’s simplest brands has beaten the average global stock index by 1,600%. And two factors that impact simplicity’s growth performance are how it builds loyalty and earns a premium: 78% of consumers are more likely to recommend a brand because it provides simpler experiences and communications, and 64% of consumers are willing to pay more for simpler experiences. Just as simplicity strengthens brands, complexity costs them. When brands fail to simplify, they leave an estimated $780 billion on the table.
U.S. movers + shakers
In this year’s U.S. Top 10 ranking, the brand performances reflected the global trend of increased simplicity in the Retail/Grocery, Restaurants, and Shipping/Mail industries.
Whole Foods Market topped the ranking, rising 17 spots from the study’s previous edition. People remarked on how the grocery giant makes it simple to make healthy choices. Take the brand’s analysis of the upcoming year’s food trends. The trend report demystifies and simplifies sustainable eating. Trader Joe’s had a 28-spot rise to place seventh. The grocer is home to private-label products, which save consumers money, simplify the shopping experience, and act as a powerful marketing maneuver, given that devoted shoppers give these items cult-like status.
Another value brand that excelled was Old Navy. The clothing-and-accessories retailer had a 51-spot rise. With smaller budgets and the back-to-basics fashion trend, Old Navy is a simple, reliable, and affordable source of everyday apparel.
United States Postal Service (USPS) had a 49-spot rise to place second. With hundreds of thousands of employees who, given USPS’ ubiquity, act as connectors to the world, the high ranking illustrates the power of human touchpoints in a consumer’s brand journey. Plus, postal workers’ status as essential workers has extended into the post-pandemic world, enhancing good feeling towards the brand. And USPS’ “Delivering for America” plan, which prioritizes streamlining shipping offerings, simplifies the consumer experience.
An unsurprising fall was that of X (Twitter). No thanks to Elon Musk’s takeover, the social media company placed last in the U.S. And, globally, social media as an industry sank seven spots, placing 21st out of 25 industries. Through the years, we have always seen a strong correlation between trust and simplicity; social media’s perceived lack of simplicity is another telling sign that people don’t feel they can trust the content they find.
What’s a brand to do?
Delivering simple experiences satisfies consumer demand, as well as drives growth and stock performance. Here is a checklist for simplifying. Assess where you are on the continuum of these pillars and implement intentional programs to improve in every area, moving further along on a path to set up your brand for success.
- Is senior leadership committed to providing simple customer experiences?
- Does our brand stand for a simple yet compelling idea in people’s minds?
- Are our products and services clear and easy to navigate?
- Do we know the brand experiences where simplicity is most needed and can inspire greater brand loyalty?
- Do we have the tools in place to get everyone to consistently deliver our brand’s purpose?
Brian Rafferty is Global Director, Business Analytics & Insights