Okay, I’ll admit, I’m a messy so and so. I’m a ‘leave the pan to soak’ (for about 3 days) kind of guy. My desk is pretty cluttered, but that’s just the way I am, always have been. No amount of Marie Kondo on Netflix can fix me now.
Whilst I’m seemingly okay with clutter in everyday life, I’m far less tolerant of it when it comes to the stuff I design or when I look at other companies, businesses and individuals and their branding. That’s because I think I subconsciously subscribe to the old adage ‘less is more’. If I pass a poster on the Metro escalator that has too much superfluous text I get a bit itchy. If I see a logo or brand name with an unnecessary word or phrase that doesn’t need to be there I get annoyed. I guess this is how people feel when they see my floordrobe – a battlefield of skinny jeans and jumpers strewn across my bedroom floor.
The reason why I think less is more and decluttering your branding is the right thing to do, is that you have to remember, consumers, customers, clients, just about everybody is busy. There is so much vying for their attention now. People don’t have the time to think about what it is you’re trying to say before another funny cat video comes along to make them chuckle into their Boots meal deal on their lunch break. Branding is all about that first impression and in a crowded market place if that first impression is one of clutter and unnecessary faff, people are much less likely to explore and engage further.
So what do I mean by unnecessary clutter?
Say you’re setting up an accountancy firm. You instruct your creative agency to create your shiny new branding but you insist that the logo feature the entire full name of the company as registered at Companies House. So what you end up with is Clutter Mcclutterface Chartered Accountants UK Ltd. Yes, the name does explicitly tell me what this business does, but it’s going to look dreadful on anything other than your incorporation certificate. And good luck to the poor designer tasked with turning that into an eye-catching logo.
Now if we look at another charted accountancy firm, Crunch for example, it’s instantly obvious that the less is more approach can work wonders. Firstly, they’ve done away with the stuffy, unnecessary phrasing of ‘charted accountants’ and opted for a quick, punchy, one-word name, that still references what the business is (accountants crunch numbers after all) but in much more compact, clutter free form. It makes them feel far more approachable, fun and modern.
Now, of course, Crunch could quite easily be the name of a new brand of breakfast cereal, so it’s important that the wider branding reinforces the message that they’re an accountancy firm. So when you look at Crunch’s website, the words accounts, accountancy, tax, VAT etc are all very prominent. My point is, is that, that’s where all of these reinforcing words belong – NOT as part of the logo but elsewhere in your brand messaging. This is mainly because there’s more space for it elsewhere and it’s less likely to crowd and dilute your logo. If you’re looking at any of Crunch’s marketing material, their website or their socials, there’s no denying they’re an accountancy firm and that’s without them mentioning the words chartered accountants in their logo. Of course, not every brand opts for a snappy, quirky name like Crunch, but when you think about all of the big, successful brands out there, being concise is key.
I had the same argument when I rebranded award-winning radio station Spark in Sunderland. As the brand grew and new platforms were added, including a magazine and an on-demand video service, extra, unnecessary words began to creep into the logo, diluting the impact of the branding. For example, the magazine had its own variant of the logo that read ‘Spark Magazine’ and for some unknown reason, we would refer to the radio station as 107 Spark FM – despite the fact that we were the only people to call us that. Think about it, if someone were to ask you what radio station you listened to, you aren’t going to turn around and say, “Oh yes, I listen to 105 – 106 Captial, the UK’s Number 1 Hit Music Station,”. Plus, I don’t know of many modern radio sets that require you to scroll through a dial searching for a frequency, and most of the station’s teenage target audience listen online or via smart speakers anyway – making the inclusion of the 107 FM in the logo almost entirely pointless. The same applies to the magazine. If you’re picking up or reading the magazine, it’s pretty obvious that its a magazine, so we don’t need to tell you that in the logo.
The key thing to remember here is to be wary of diluting your brand name with unnecessary clutter. You may have to make some tough decisions and be firm in terms of what you leave off but in the long run, the shorter and snappier your brand name and logo is, the more memorable and engaging it is.