For Beloved Brands Like Ikea, Amazon, Simplicity is in the Details

BigMacYou might not think umlauts, Big Macs and best sellers have a lot in common, but when it comes to brand perception they do. The commonality is simplicity, and many loyalty marketers would do well by learning about their benefits.

Ikea, McDonald’s and Amazon are among the top 10 brands in the 2013 Global Brand Simplicity Index, compiled by the brand strategy firm Siegel+Gale. The index reviews the significance of simplicity on brand perception, this year exploring the relationship between simplicity and employee innovation.

The index is a sharp reminder that over-doing it can often put a good idea under foot, and that applies to loyalty strategies. In the effort to create programs that may be all things to all people, loyalty strategists often fall into the trap of over-architecting the program. They include so many tiers and reward options and guidelines that the consumer simply does not have the time to learn the benefits. That translates to lost sales and opportunities.

Consider these brand examples and their reasons for being included in the Simplicity Index:

Amazon: The online merchant’s commitment to effortlessness, like its one-click ordering, has converted many first-time shoppers into brand ambassadors. And, as the report states, every part of Amazon is driven by data that tracks customer experience successes and failures.

McDonald’s: The fast food giant made the list for its clear communications, from its accessible menu to its straightforward pricing. McDonald’s is introducing product packaging that will include QR codes linked to nutritional information, in response to the obesity epidemic.

Samsung: Known best for the Android-operated Galaxy, an iPhone rival, Samsung is casting off its hardware manufacturer image and going for functionality. “Samsung has been heavily investing in promoting its bold technology and innovation,” the report states.

IKEA: Its products may be hard to pronounce, but the challenges end there at Ikea. With simple designs, easy-to-assemble furnishings and clear pricing options, the Swedish retailer is known for extending that simplicity to the home, and hotel. Ikea is partnering with Marriott International to create a brand of hotels called Moxy, designed for millennial travelers.

These brands get simple right because they make complexity look effortless. They build and integrate highly detailed business operations behind the scenes so they know their customer better, and can deliver more relevant products and offers as a result.

Great loyalty programs can do the same – make very simple, compelling and relevant offers that are determined by millions of data points behind the scenes. The organization just needs to ensure all departments are connected to the program and that it reflects the simple message of the brand.

If struggling loyalty operators take some lessons from these brands, they might have a program as palatable as a Big Mac. It does take persistence, but so does assembling a bookcase with an umlaut.

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