“Quality over quantity!”
You’ve heard the saying over and over again about countless topics, to the point where it begins to lose its meaning. However, it bears significance in few arenas more than in modern marketing.
With a myriad of brands competing for consumers’ attention, it may be tempting to post as much content as possible to gain a foothold among target audiences. As a content marketing writer, I obviously don’t disagree with creating consistent, relevant, and high quality content. However, reducing the complexity of marketing efforts often makes for leaner and more impactful campaigns.
What is Minimalist Marketing?
When it comes to marketing, minimalism can mean something different depending on the medium in which brands express it, such as:
- Images. Minimal visual advertising uses simple, stark images to tell a story about a brand, its product, or its customers; ideally, the same story applies to all three. The lack of visual clutter draws the viewer’s eyes directly to the desired focal point, making a strong impression.
- Words. Consider the impact a poem can have with only a few words. Minimalist content marketing provides similar effects through short, succinct posts, articles, or taglines to communicate a message. As mobile consumers spend rapidly decreasing lengths of time reading online content, keeping marketing messages short and sweet is crucial to retaining their undivided attention.
- Video. Thanks to the proliferation of YouTube and Vine, video marketing is enjoying its day in the sun, which will likely last for many years to come. However, anyone who has clicked on a video only to gasp in horror at its length (who has ten minutes to watch a video?) understands the importance and impact of a short, narrative-driven marketing video.
How Minimalist Marketing Impacts Audiences
Cutting through the noise to earn a potential customer’s attention is difficult. When brands blather on about their product’s many characteristics or benefits – no matter how accurate and compelling the information may be – their audiences often don’t stick around to hear the whole pitch.
When companies utilize minimalist marketing, their goal is to get to the point as quickly and efficiently as possible while entertaining their audiences. Effective minimalist marketing campaigns accomplish multiple objectives, including:
Simplify choices. Have you ever stood frozen in the cereal aisle, overwhelmed by the glut of options? When it comes to online marketing, potential customers feel the same way. Although many brands want to engage with them, consumers simply want to know which products are the best, most stylish, most affordable, or whatever other characteristic they seek. Minimalist marketing seeks to designate its product as that product, reassuring customers their search is over.
Establish trust. One of the most efficient ways to market is not to attempt a hard sell – it is to provide something the customer needs with no strings attached. Simple advertising campaigns often provide a no-frills demonstration of how their product or company helps people. Rather than pitching the customer directly, they establish themselves as trustworthy entities with which anyone would be proud to associate.
Tell a story. As the adage goes, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” The same can be said of a tweet or a short video if the story it tells connects with audiences. Consider what story you want to tell about your brand. Perhaps it’s about how you founded the company, how you created your product, or how it changed a customer’s life. Then find a way to tell that story in the smallest space possible within your chosen medium.
Provide valuable information. Those visiting blogs and social media pages are rarely interested in “building a relationship” with a company, at least not on the level most brands would like. However, brands with their fingers on the pulses of target audiences have a unique opportunity to provide researched, relevant content to help them live their lives more effectively. A potential customer will not likely spend fifteen minutes reading a print ad for surfboard wax, but will be considerably more apt to spend the same amount of time learning about the “Top 10 Big Wave Surfing Sites.”
Perfecting a Minimalist Marketing Approach
The three titans who seem to have perfected the marketing game have done so using minimalist marketing. The dominance of this trifecta is owed not to coincidence, but to concerted efforts of the best marketing teams in the world. Whether having used the approach for decades or recently adopted it to reflect changing times, these companies understand the importance of simple messaging.
Modern masters of minimalism include:
- Apple. Always cool, cutting-edge, and in-demand, Apple has established an iconic image for itself based on simplicity. Its ads frequently occur on a stark white background, highlighting its products’ elegance.
In this MacBook Air television ad, a modest image of the Apple laptop remains motionless while various stickers appear across its exterior. The video contains no voiceover and no text until the brief four-word message at the end. Enough said.
- Volkswagen. The classic German car manufacturer – best known for the Beetle and the Type 2 Bus – represents the definition of “cool” in vehicle advertising. Like Apple, VW often relies on a crisp white background against which to feature its distinctive automobiles. Accompanying each image is an often cheeky message, appealing to the joker and adventurer in potential buyers.
Although this vintage VW postcard is several decades old, it could easily make it into one of their modern print advertising campaigns:
- McDonalds. A French advertising agency rolled out a minimalist new logo, featuring a simple graphic of the wildly successful Big Mac. This new branding reflects a cultural expectation of more sophisticated and refined fare, placing the classic Golden Arches symbol perfunctorily off to the side.
At its essence, minimalist advertising is about cutting out the clutter and letting the heart of your brand shine. Whatever media you choose, customers will appreciate your genuine, matter-of-fact approach and reward you with their time and attention.
What extraneous details could your company cut from its marketing efforts to present a more minimalist image?
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