‘Emotional minimalism’, ‘frugalism’, consume less but consume better; all these contemporary precepts take us back to ‘Less is More’ by the famous German architect, Mies van der Rohe. For brands too, we advocate this sacrosanct minimalism to rid them of artificiality and get back to the essentials. What does it mean in real terms?
‘Less is more’ is often seen through the prism of aesthetics. However, it can it can be way more and provide powerful insights for brands. Here is an overview in three points:
# 1. Less products, more uses!
From technology to the cosmetics sector, extending usage and multiplying opportunities remains one of the main drivers for brand innovation projects.
Many of the award-winning innovations offer diversification into new fields of expertise. We still remember the launch of the BB cream which revolutionized the world of cosmetics by bringing together a day cream, a corrector and a foundation in the same tube, even if it meant cannibalising products in their own market or portfolio.
An entire kitchen in a Thermomix
Ila’s multi stick used on lips, cheeks and eyes to
give you a healthy glow
The “all round” product is also an opportunity for brands to revitalize declining segments or explore other product features in a new light.
It is also a way for the brand to anchor itself into contemporary consumption patterns, by offering a real utility promise for users looking to save time and space.
Perhaps even more surprising, are the innovations that manage to create usage diversification by multiplying opportunities outside a brand’s direct field of competence. Take the smartphone revolution which has supplanted the use of everyday objects; from calculators to cameras, including alarm clocks among many other features. This has now been extended with connected watches and other wearables. By offering a ‘Less is More’ product to its users, it is also an opportunity to expand the brand’s field of expertise in other market segments where the brand was not initially present.
# 2. Less quantity, more quality
Make it last!
The opposite of planned obsolescence, sustainability has become the basic tenet of many so-called ‘responsible’ brands. But beyond a better quality product which is made to last, other levers are key to offering a truly sustainable model.
Cyclon are trainers that are recycled at the end of their product life cycle and can be exchanged for the latest model in the range.
Reinventing and implementing genuine sustainable models from the circular economy like Cyclon is an interpretation of ‘less is more ‘ by brands.
Pre-ordering avoids over production and subscription models adapt to each user’s needs. They also encourage loyalty by reducing stress linked to contract renewals.
Typology and Luko focus on the essentials in a simple and effective way
We are going back to a user utility promise , giving back value to the essentials in order to ease the daily grind and abandon a ‘marketing’ approach. This frees us from the traditional advertising model
In short, these brands highlight the obviousness of their simplicity. They are often associated with a certain timelessness to justify their raison d’être and offer a contrast to the race for more features.
Contrary to being devoid of any emotional dimension, this strategy contributes to promoting a lifestyle that is intended to be authentic, intelligent and often considerate.
‘Less is More’ when applied to brands, ultimately allows us to refocus on user needs in order to create a fair, simple and effective brand experience. Ultimately, it means choosing to refocus on the essential and necessary rather than features that are neither needed nor desirable.
Kim Hartmann, Head of Strategic Planning
On the design side, what’s going on? Check out Vincent Viard’s article here : Less is More, Design side