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January, 2007

Elegance Through Back to Basics

I don't mean to trot out old themes, but with yesterday's iPhone announcement on the brain I can't help but think about elegance.

Simplicity was a big theme in 2006, but as Piers astutely notes, it's not really what everyone desires. As Don Norman wrote, "Features win over simplicity, even when people realize that it is accompanied by more complexity." It's not that people prefer complexity, but they want a product that does everything they might ever want to do (even though most likely they'll never use the vast majority of those features). I'd argue that what people are really looking for is elegance: The intersection of simplicity and complexity.

Unlike simplicity ('less is more'), elegance doesn't have an ideology. It just is. It's about delivering the best possible feature set in the best possible way. It's about making each and every one of those features easy to use. Not surprisingly, the most elegant is also often the most innovative (and, as Scott points out, the most obvious).

The problem with elegance is it's not easy. It requires a company to really know who they are and who their audience is. They need to get back to basics, which just happens to be the point of this whole piece. (Apologies for taking four paragraphs to get there).

Today Gareth asked "What will [marketing in] 2007 be about?" I posited a guess that was built both on Gareth's and Mark Earls' responses: "I think 2007 is about back to basics. With the influx of user generated content and the realization that consumers can be great co-marketers, it's time for brands to dig deep within themselves and figure out who they are and what they want to be when they grow up. Companies need to identify core beliefs and assets and focus on them."

From there anything is possible.

So what do you all think about this? What will 2007 be about?

January 10, 2007
Noah Brier | Thanks for reading. | Don't fake the funk on a nasty dunk.