Naturally, anything involving “simplicity” tends to catch our attention, but we were particularly interested in this report by brand consultancy Siegel + Gale, because it’s all about how people can make money simplifying their products and industries.

The “Global Brand Simplicity Index,” now in its fourth year, is based on a survey of more than 10,000 people in seven countries on perceived simplicity in brands and in industries.

According to the survey, the top 10 simplest brands worldwide are Aldi (a European-based grocery discounter, which, incidentally, owns Trader Joe’s), Amazon, Google, McDonald’s, KFC, Carrefour, C&A (both European retailers), Samsung, IKEA, and Pizza Hut.

The 10 least simple brands worldwide are Ryanair, the Irish airline where the CEO joked — we think — about charging to use the bathroom, AXA, Allianz, Hertz, Citibank, Avis, E.on, HSBC, LinkedIn, and Google+. Interestingly, of the 10, two are rental-car companies, and three are banks and financial services companies.

The survey also found that 75 percent of respondents said they would be more likely to recommend a brand if it provided simpler experiences and communications. Respondents would be willing to pay up to 18 percent more for brands with a reputation for simplicity – though, to be fair, its top example was 18.5 percent with Blackberry, a company now in free-fall and looking for a way to survive.

Because the company’s 2012 survey results noted that the most complicated workplace struggle was promoting innovation, Siegel + Gale focused this year’s survey on innovation. First, the company needed to answer two questions, the report reads: What was different about workplaces where people find promoting innovation simplest, compared to the ones where people find it most complex; and what kind of innovations consumers felt made their lives the most simple.

The results? “It all comes down to purpose,” Siegel + Gale writes. “Companies with employees who both understand and are committed to their organization’s purpose find innovation simple. Innovations with the most obvious utilitarian purpose are the ones consumers say contribute most to making their lives simpler.”

Attributes of successful companies included factors such as:

  • I have a good understanding of my company’s purpose
  • I’m committed to my company’s purpose
  • My immediate superior enables me to speak my mind
  • My workplace has an open floor plan
  • I have a good friend at work
  • It is easy to find the information that I need and share it with others at my workplace
  • Management has an open door policy
  • People at my workplace are rewarded for coming up with new ideas
  • People at my company get ahead based on how well they do, not office politics
  • My workplace is quick to adopt the latest technology
  • My supervisor ensures I have learning opportunities

The survey went on to break out, by country, the “simple” products that survey respondents said they most wanted — and the premium they said they would be willing to pay for simplicity, from 4.4 to 5.4 percent more.

Not surprisingly, considering the struggle around implementing Obamacare, the top industry that Americans wanted to simplify was health insurance, with the potential to earn up to $4.6 billion. Though the U.K. doesn’t have the health insurance issue, it, too, had insurance as the top industry, with 931 million pounds as the estimated money to be made if it were simplified. For Germany, it was $1.5 billion euros for utilities.

For the Middle East, India, and China, the focus instead was on what one innovation would improve people’s lives. The Middle East and India voted for “A portable charger for your phone that’s the size of a credit card and fits in your wallet.” China — which put the portable charger at only #6 — chose the ability to display boarding passes on your smartphone.

In other ways to make money on simplicity, Siegel + Gale noted that its “simplicity index,” a stock portfolio made up of the ten simplest brands, has grown 167 percent since its inception, more than twice the S&P (83 percent) or the Dow (72 percent) in the same period.

So now you know how your company can make more money. Go forth…and simplify.

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