Don't Simplify. Articulate Complexity.

Often, we encounter clients whose brands or desires seem overly complex — decentered messaging, random use of logos, sites that try to do too much, copy that tries to say too much. And we imagine it our job to simplify this complexity, to wipe away the excess, to reduce the noise. And we tend to call this simplicity. Indeed, simplicity is a mantra among designers.

But I want to suggest that these are false and misleading terms. What we encounter is not complexity; it's confusion. When we do our job well, we prioritize, organize, and distribute. We lend shape to the shapeless, form to the formless, sense to the madness. Sometimes, if not often, this means eliminating unnecessary or confusing components — wordy paragraphs, noisy web sites, murky icons.

But this work is not simplifying. It's clarifying.

It's our job to articulate the complexity of a brand as best we can — the networked milieu of employees, leadership, history, consumer desires, future needs, the competitive landscape. And to do so in a way that is at once clear, organized, meaningful, and delightful.

The simplicity/complexity dichotomy is a strategist's and designer's red herring. It is our job to give eloquent voice to the complexity.