There’s an effective marketing tool your business can use for virtually no cost. The “keep it simple and straightforward” (KISS) method can improve the relationship between your company and consumers, increase your team’s creativity, and minimize complications within the workplace. Let’s explore how to use the KISS principle to improve your business operations.
KISS is a design principle that stands for “Keep it simple and straightforward” (or sometimes “Keep it short or simple” or “Keep it simple, stupid”). For businesses, KISS can be a useful reminder not to make anything more complicated than it has to be. In a nutshell, this design principle advocates the simplification of processes and systems.
KISS can be translated into business practices in general and, in particular, marketing communication. In short, it is better to keep it simple.
One company that’s famous for following the KISS principle is Apple. As Ken Segall, Apple’s creative team leader, wrote in his book Think Simple: How Smart Leaders Defeat Complexity (Portfolio, 2016), “There were principles that Steve [Jobs] would never compromise. Simplicity is one of them.”
When you keep things simple, there is more emphasis on action, fewer opportunities for problematic complications and more creativity in work projects. Kelly Johnson, a lead engineer at Lockheed Skunk Works, even applied the KISS method to military equipment designers. Johnson, aware that in battle there was no room for complications, told the designers to make equipment simple enough that the average soldier with basic training could fix it if needed. [Read more about prioritizing tasks as an entrepreneur.]
Here are some of the benefits of applying the KISS principle at your business:
While business tasks may seem overwhelming at the beginning stages, the KISS method reminds companies to look at the big picture, divide projects into smaller tasks and continue to do so until things can’t be broken down any further. The KISS principle’s simplified and direct communication methods enable productive work and more efficient problem-solving.
There’s research that demonstrates the benefits of the KISS principle. Sheena Iyengar, a professor at Columbia University and a leading expert on the theory of choice, led an experiment that showed consumers are more likely to take action if they are faced with few and simple options.
Iyengar became curious about the KISS principle when frequenting an upscale grocery store that she said made her feel like she was “going to an amusement park”; it carried over two dozen brands of bottled water, 75 kinds of olive oil, and 250 options for mustards and vinegar. Even though she had a lot of choices and enjoyed shopping, she never seemed to buy anything.
Barry Schwartz, author of the award-winning book The Paradox of Choice (Ecco, 2004), supports the KISS theory with his research. He suggests that consumers prefer fewer choices because, when faced with more selections, people are more likely to feel regretful, indecisive and, in general, less content than if they had fewer options. Brands with simpler offerings are rewarded with more customers and increased loyalty across all business industries.
The KISS principle leads to better focus, fewer complications and, because consumers prefer fewer choices, increased sales and happier customers.
First, businesses need to analyze how easy it is for a prospective customer to fully understand what your product or service offers. Optimizing both your business’s primary channel for presenting itself (usually, a website) and your marketing communications is the best way to get customers’ attention and business. Follow these tips to apply KISS at your business: