Ideas. We all have them, and we all over complicate them. Take, for example, the unicycle. Everyone was doing just fine with the two wheeled bicycle, but we decided to over complicate things with one wheel. Sure, it makes a great circus trick, but we don’t exactly need anymore of those in marketing.
As of late, there have been numerous blog posts about Steve Jobs, all citing his demand for simplicity and his extreme attention to detail. I am sure we’ve all heard the expression Keep It Simple Stupid (K.I.S.S) a time or two as well.
Yesterday as we were walking to lunch, Justin made a particular effort to show me a parking ramp meter that had recently caught his attention. I listened carefully as he described the pain and frustration he saw customers going through as they were trying to get past the gate. He had the unfortunate situation of being three cars back as a little old lady nearly broke out in tears over the painful complications.
From the looks of it, this thing is not simple. As soon as you need to start taping additional instructions to the machine, you’ve lost all hope of being easy to use. Clearly, they shouldn’t have sent the human parking attendant home so early. And, that’s the rub. There use to be a guy sitting in the parking booth, and things were good. It was a simple idea, and it worked. Now, it had been over-thought. It was complicated. It was less good.
The other day I ran into a very simple campaign created by Forsman & Bodenfors for a new IKEA store opening in Sweden. The video shows how they took a simple idea, and a simple feature, and turned it into a very successful social media campaign. You can see their success in this short video:
The first person to tag their name on the product won it. Simple as that.
I think sometimes we feel like the simple ideas aren’t good enough, like we need to add a few more layers to prove our worth. But, great ideas don’t have to be complicated. In fact, some of the most viral ideas, the kind that spread, are as simple as ever. Think about the pink ribbons we use to symbolize breast cancer awareness, or the popularity of the Like button on Facebook.
Simple ideas that are easy to understand and execute can go a very long way. We just need to realize that thinking simple isn’t the same thing as thinking small.