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In a saturated advertising climate, the adage “short, sweet, and to-the-point” has never been more important for marketers. A minimalist approach to art and copy is effective because it’s visually appealing, self-aware, and arresting. In a world filled with online clutter, sparse images catch the eye, plain and simple.
The rise of minimalism in marketing is reminiscent of the 1960s art movement of the same name. Minimalism in art sought to defy traditional avenues of artistic expression by forcing viewers to confront understated shapes and patterns. In a business context the aesthetic isn’t as abstract, but the heart of the movement remains. By creating effective minimalist ad campaigns, design teams concurrently develop a keen sense of intuition, deep understanding of current social environments, and an innate understanding of human behavior.
In 2018, several brands have capitalized on the minimalist trend and are reaping the benefits of a subtle, "with-a-wink-and-a-nod" approach to marketing. Below are three brands who have taken the short-and-sweet mantra to heart with their marketing strategies — and seen serious ROI as a result (learn more social strategies in our Social Media Pocket Guide).
I have not yet bought a Glossier product, but I am an unabashed sucker for the brand’s minimalist marketing. With clean product packaging, a lively website design, and no-gimmick advertising, Glossier speaks my language: I think, “give me something that works, but that still feels like me.” Their advertising echoes that desire and also echoes what they claim their products do.
At the helm of Glossier and responsible for the brand’s considerable success is founder Emily Weiss, a former art student and Vogue staffer with a passion for storytelling and content. Weiss explained that from an early age, she was bothered by her experience with beauty brands, who didn’t engage with their customers properly. She also noted that beauty shopping lacked the context of real women and real experiences. In an attempt to change the beauty industry and the dialogues within it, Weiss created a beauty blog titled “Into the Gloss”, which would later evolve into the brand Glossier. Since then, Glossier continues to produce beauty products inspired by real life, focusing on simple, effective, advertising that understands and invites connection with their audience.
Paloma Wool is a relatively young fashion brand that’s gained eminence in cult-fashion circles around the world with their clean and simple aesthetic. The Barcelona-based brand defines itself as a “project” which fuses together elements of photography and fashion. A scroll through their Instagram profile or website yields an obvious truth: Paloma Wool is driven by a notion of simplified beauty, one that combines soothing elements of nature with bold contemporary styles.
The brand’s Instagram feels like an actual breath of fresh air. Paloma Wool highlights clothing with subdued earth tones, natural fabrics and textures — and interesting, yet minimal, textile designs. The brand’s images are usually set in front of white backdrops with subtle references to captivating natural vistas. Lively green foliage, serene oceanic views, and even pieces of fruit accompany the models in the photos. This subtle artistic element both reinforces and separates their brand from competitors.
While a minimalist design will certainly gain your brand attention, a keen sense of humor, as we've seen with Dollar Shave Club, will all but guarantee marketing success. Take this from IKEA, one of the world’s largest furniture retailers and champions of advertising. In a recent campaign, IKEA took a simple approach in showcasing their latest line of wireless charging furniture for the iPhone X.
The campaign notably paid homage to Apple, another marketing aficionado, adopting the minimalist style that became the brand's staple. What makes these ads so great is that they’re self-aware. IKEA repurposes the famous Apple motto “think different," fitting it into the context of the products they’re selling. The bright colors, quirky imagery, and bold copy make these ads visually appealing, while the comedic undertones make them mentally stimulating.
McDonalds has been a titan in advertising for decades and is no stranger to minimalist copy and design. A recent McDonald’s campaign returned to minimalism with a variety of billboards featuring short copy and close-ups of their famed golden arches. In these ads, the company uses its iconic logo as directional cues which correspond to the text beside it. Like to the IKEA ads mentioned before, these billboards aren’t just visually appealing, but humorous and relevant.
We’ve all been there — traveling on the highway, stomach growling, desperately searching for the next rest stop. This campaign addresses this common reality by inserting itself into the customer experience. It’s an admirable marketing tactic that shows both a deep understanding of buyer personas and artistic restraint — two facets that are vital in creating effective minimalist campaigns.
So far, 2018 has been a stand-out year for marketing and advertising campaigns that inspire. The unyielding growth of these industries then lead to bigger creative risks and bolder experiments with different styles of design and copy. Taking creative risks can be intimidating, but when approached thoughtfully, can open up substantial avenues for success.
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