- “Just Do It.”
- “I’m Lovin’ It.”
- “Because You’re Worth It.”
Sound familiar? Whether it's three or four words, you know you’re looking at the most iconic three or four words ever put together.
When it comes to penning down the perfection of their brand in a decisive but succinct statement, brands like Nike, McDonald’s and L’Oreal are ahead of the game. They are masters in the art of “I have but one second to say this, and in that one second, I must sell it.” It’s about finding the right words.
But these brands also know it is about only finding the right words.The rigour of catch-phrasing lies not merely in effective brainstorming, but in a solid commitment to less is more. An unspoken commitment to minimalism.
What can minimalism mean on a broader scale of marketing? And is now the time to re-evaluate its place in the lives of our consumers?
Dialling back a bit; the practice of ‘minimalist’ living and ‘minimalist’ aesthetics are very much rooted in niche lifestyles. Minimalism fights against consumer excess, but it also fights against the overwhelm of consumer perception. More recently, the likes of Marie Kondo have made clearing away what doesn’t “spark joy” a matter of wholesome living. Minimalism is now a trendy virtue, a commitment to making space for things you value, and extracting anything that takes away from your ability to reward those things with your undivided attention.
Of course, perhaps only a world-wide pandemic can realign the places of ‘attention’, ‘value’ and ‘lifestyle’ in the mainstream. In other words, a year of lockdowns and essentially becoming like furniture in our own homes has helped us understand the overwhelming quality of the world versus our actual, minimal requirements of being. We prize the moments we have alone, we strive for isolation even within isolation by switching off our palm-sized hunks of glass and metal, and we can do with a lot less information, interference and involvement.
With pandemics that infuse minimalism, and minimalisms that become consumer pandemics, the question isn’t whether there is a link between the two. It is: how do we rebrand, reopen and repackage in light of an obvious new connection?
Beyond catch-phrases and logo redesigns, brands now face a reinvented consumer: the one who is decluttering, minimising and importantly, restricting screen-time. So how do you create new values for the face-masked consumer?
The Declutterer: Working-from-home also meant facing-your-own-filth. COVID-19 brought consumers up close with their living spaces, i.e., the forgotten stack of leafed-through books behind the nightstand, the untangleable mess of TV, laptop and phone wires under the desk, and the badly-arranged suits and shoes. On a daily basis, no one thinks to move something unless it's in their way. Being home all day long, however, can make it difficult to avoid. One feels they need something to induce a sense of control. Minimalism here begins with a belief that you need to get your very many things in order.
And so, beyond online grocery-ordering apps and Zoom, the products and services that push organisation as a consumer value are sure to rise. If your consumers work from home, you’d do well to treat them like they could use some decluttering. Focus, structure and routine - these are the tenets of marketing for the declutterer.
The Minimiser: Minimising and consumption - surely a contradiction-in-terms?! Not quite. The COVID-19 consumer is one who knows what truly matters, and what needs minimisation. That doesn’t always mean less around the house; it means creating essence in what you see around you, and if you can’t, you can do away with it. Whether it's a tennis racket they don’t use anymore or an annoying informational app you swipe away with your fingers, things that the minimiser doesn’t need to value, they simply do not.
Branding essence in your products isn’t easy, but like with a declutterer, ask yourself: what is my minimiser likely to value about their life after a year of extended me-time, removal of restaurants, parks and outdoor activities? Is self-care for consumers, a newly-valuable act, a space for me to present my brand? Or is it the importance of family life, which many consumers maximised during lockdown, whether they intended to or not? The minimiser is a carer, and that’s a good place to start.
- The Screen-Time Cruncher: Perhaps the most challenging type of post-COVID-19 patron - social media apps like TikTok and video-conferencing modes like Zoom skyrocketed in use over the pandemic. Scrolling can hardly be treated as a distraction or pastime anymore, because you know your consumer has been forced to disconnect physically and reconnect virtually. And paradoxically, that comes with a tendency of users to switch off too. With “social-media-cleanses” for the soul, and apps that help you restrict your phone usage, we are looking at consumers that move between crunching their screen-time and also, desperate to maximise the dividends of whatever screen-time they do put in.
So reopen your web and social media toolkit, and think: does my web design still stand out, or could I use a change? Does my content overwhelm the reader, or can I creatively space some of this text for more relaxed and attentive reading? Strategies that invoke the time and perception of your online audience to create minimum disturbance with maximum engagement are your best bet. Along with the declutterer and minimiser, the screen-time cruncher is concerned with positive reductions. A value of mindfulness, easily achieved through simple but thoughtful designs in your visuals and content, is what they believe will infuse serenity and sensibility to their feeds.
So think about your branding post-COVID-19 in a way that can treat consumers a little more special.
Minimalism isn’t about emptiness - it's about structure and normalcy.
It isn’t about removal - it's about creating essence.
And it isn’t about bite-sizing - it's about addressing overwhelm.
At the end of the day, certain catch-phrases are timeless. Not only because they’re short and snappy, but because they invoke the consumer as an agent with values, even in a pandemic.