Macrotrend · Complex Simplicity

How to Brand with Complex Simplicity

Complex Simplicity is a Macrotrend that is evident all across the market, perhaps most notably in the Apple iPhone where simplicity design is in the forefront. It’s a product whose functions are so simple that children as young as one-year-old are capable of figuring out—and successfully using—the iPhone’s most basic features. It’s designed to be so accessible and user friendly that a toddler can observe his parents’ scrolling through pictures or opening and closing an app, and perform the same function on his own moments later.

Yet behind the simple, neat design of it’s sleek exterior, the iPhone houses one of the most complex brains of any other piece of technology most users own. It’s an intricate computer capable of phenomenal tasks embodied within one of the most basic necessities of today: a telephone.

What’s most significant about the complex simplicity of the iPhone is that its users are well aware of the intricate brain and interior maze of technology required for the iPhone to do all of the things it does, but that’s not really why they love it. They love the iPhone because its complexity is so beautifully complemented by the ease and efficiency of the user experience.

In other words, they know the complexity is inside, but they only have to interact with the sleek, symmetrical, one-touch features of the machine in order to summon all of that intricate technology into action. The experience of using an iPhone allows one to engage in and interact with a complex technology while maintaining the same calm and balance that the iPhone’s harmonious design emulates.

Think about the products and brands that have stood the test of time: Mercedes Benz, Rolex, Ray-Ban, Converse, Coca-Cola, and Kitchen-Aid, to name a few. These brands’ products have evolved into smarter versions of the same classic example they’ve always been selling. These brands mastered the idea of complex simplicity long ago, and have never strayed; they continue to offer their classic designs on the outside while the capacity of their product becomes more advanced and revolutionary as consumer demands change.

In a world where consumers have become increasingly disoriented by the chaos of advertising, these brands retain customer loyalty because their products continue to offer a simple, streamlined aesthetic and interactive experiences in the midst of a constant barrage of technological advances that ask consumers to repeatedly change the way they interact with technology.

Over the past few decades, design has become increasingly convoluted and overly-complex. In the 80’s and 90’s, complexity was marketed as a desirable feature in almost every product. This trend resulted in too many buttons on the TV controller, unnecessary functions that were hardly used, and failed attempts at advanced technologies that weren’t ready for public use. Consider the boombox of the 80’s and 90’s, that boasted dozens of knobs, dials and buttons, antennas, tape decks, multi-disc C.D. players, inputs, outputs, even handles, wheels and cases.

Majority of societal change has rested on public demand and it’s clear the market is serious about their sustainable intentions and behavior. A high interest in detailed information about products or services, paired with legitimate product labeling, has shaped the responsible shopper to encourage society (and its industries) to continue down the green path.


Today, the top-selling music players are the ones that can handle multiple types of media, and can adapt to various other systems (think car stereo and home surround sound), yet can fit easily in the palm of your hand. Products characterized by Complex Simplicity have clear and intuitive design, even when what lies beneath is technically advanced.

Modern simplicity requires a timeless appearance that moves beyond borders of eras and cultures, with remarkable functionality embedded within superior design. Products don’t just look clean and simple–they actually make life easier and more enjoyable.


Make style and product choice easy. Preserve your brand’s reliability for consumers by taking a minimalist approach. Embrace revision and removal of unnecessary elements by whittling away to a focused and simple design. Emulate the most trusted brands of your own lifetime rather than “the next big thing” that is destined to be a flash in the pan. Quality craftsmanship doesn’t need to hide behind bells and whistles, rather, it’s dependability is present in it’s simple aesthetic appeal.

The complex simplicity Macrotrend serves as a roadmark pointing in the direction of balanced aesthetics, attitude, and functionality, but it’s the brand’s prerogative whether or not to follow the course charted by industry leaders, or to chose a path that others have proven may not result in lifelong consumer loyalty.

“You know you have reached perfection of design not when you have nothing more to add, but when you have nothing more to take away.”
– Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, French aristocrat/writer/poet/pioneering aviator

Macrotrend · Complex Simplicity
by Watson Creative