Minimalism vs Simplicity

May 15, 2019 · 2 min read
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What’s the difference between being simple and being minimal?

Minimal is simple, but simple isn’t necessarily minimal. And simple definitely doesn’t mean boring. Take Dropbox’s recent re-brand. It’s simple, but certainly not boring. Or take a brand like Aesop. They have a strong core philosophy that leads them to a certain visual language. This is how it should be. Like our work with Echo Spirits and Pfeld, they look inward at who they are and their brand identity becomes an extension of that.

Many digitally native brands like Away, Clare, Lola, and Curology — and some big-box brands like Target’s Room Essentials and Wal-mart’s soon-to-be-launched Everlane rival — are all using minimalism as a key visual tool. These are brands that for a variety of reasons are trying to appear minimal and clean. Maybe it’s accommodating the use of the identity on smaller screens, maybe it’s an attempt at to mimic the visual language of the app economy. That’s not to say it’s wrong, but they all look the same. They’re creating their own version of noise by trying to not be noisy. It makes those brands look legitimate and sleek, but also boring.

When you follow trends, you’re always on the back foot. When you know who you are, you can be confident. Customers, clients, and stakeholders notice this confidence.

One final example of simplicity done right: new first aid brand Welly. It’s simple without being minimal and has a smart, clear brand voice (Bravery Bandages!). This combination of knowing their position, their audience, and putting a stake in the ground visually and verbally sets them apart. Next time my daughter needs a bandage, I know what I’m reaching for.

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