simple design doesn't mean basic design

We all know the acronym K.I.S.S (in case you don’t, it’s Keep It Simple, Stupid) so why do so many of us fight against this when it comes to design? I’ve come across it time and time again, people want elegant and functional solutions to their branding and design, but refuse to accept that simplicity is the key to this. There seems to be an idea that simple design is easy design, and that easy design is quick design, and so simple design shouldn’t cost money. Let me tell you now, this could not be further from the truth.

what makes a great design?

The French novelist and writer Antoine de Saint-Exupery famously said ‘A designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.’ This quote dates back to around 1935, but the sentiment still holds true today. Great design is memorable and timeless, something that will look as good in 20 years as it does today, that doesn’t rely on trends or fashions (not to say that working within trends isn’t sometimes appropriate). Imagine 3 of the biggest brands you can, the likes of Google, Amazon, ASOS, Clinique - what do they all have in common? Clean, simplistic, timeless design.

google logo
amazon logo

does simple design equal quick and easy design?

As a designer, I can promise you that any design I present that seems simple and bold will have taken me absolutely ages. With a simple design, the real beauty is in the small details, and they can take hours and hours of agonising over. It’s the small details that make a difference between sloppy or lazy design and timeless eye-catching. I know from experience that a complicated and fussy design can be thrown together in half an hour, and leave no lasting impression on anyone. A logo that is elegant, simple and sophisticated can take days of tweaking and pixel perfecting, and will hopefully stay on people’s minds. That’s what we aim for as designers.

including your unique brand voice

I need to be clear, that when referring to simple design I’m not referring strictly to black chunky typography. There are plenty of logos that are full of character, and still manage to pull off elegant simplicity. You don’t need to choose between personality and a decent logo.


Some of the biggest brands in the world use colour, shapes, hand drawn elements and interesting fonts to display the unique personality of their brands without resorting to fussy, ineffective design.

is simple design appropriate for your small brand?

Of course! Work with a designer to understand the core personality of your brand, and the things that make you unique. Building visual branding that is simple, memorable and effective without losing your unique brand voice is easy when you know what you’re working with.

Don’t believe this kind of design can work for independent brands? Take a look at some of my recent branding projects: