Is it Simple, Clear, and Brilliant? If Not, Stop. Please.
The principles to creating magical work are pretty straightforward. This doesn’t mean that they’re easy to live out, but they’re easy to understand.
Magical work is simple, clear, and brilliant. Let’s break these down.
Clean. Straightforward. Transparent.
We love to over complicate, over communicate, and over think everything. This is true in marketing, design, strategy, and life. But magic is taking the complex and making it simple.
We associate complexity with value. We think that if people are paying us for a service, the more complicated the offering or process, the more value it holds. I believe the opposite is true. Delivering simplicity at a high level, it’s more valuable than complexity at a low level. As Brandon Rike says, “Simplicity takes courage.”
Comprehensible. Distinct. Coherent.
Clarity is key for any engagement in the business world. You have to know what you’re trying to accomplish or you will never know if you have achieved it.
Sometimes this clarity only goes to the next step and beyond that it’s a little fuzzy. This is OK. If you’re pushing the limits of what has been done before, you’re likely to be in this spot. But, most of the time you can pinpoint a direction and steps to get there from the start. You might have to be flexible on the steps, but having the clarity up front will help you align everything to the overall win.
Creative. Meaningful. Clever.
Brilliant to me is a combination of creativity and meaning. When you are doing work that is creative and meaningful to you, its disruptive and beautiful in a landscape of copycats and blandness.
This one can be intimidating. The honest truth is that brilliant work can’t be forced. When it’s legit, It comes from an authentic overflow of who you are. Brilliance flows when you play. Learn the right conditions for you to get into a flow state, and stick to them. For me it’s working with people who want to make meaning, who mutually value experience and talent, and who give space to the process.
In my experiences in building brands and doing creative work for years now, here’s what I’ve found:
SIMPLE + CLEAR - BRILLIANT = BORING
CLEAR + BRILLIANT - SIMPLE = OVERWHELMING
BRILLIANT + SIMPLE - CLEAR = NOT ACTIONABLE
SIMPLE + CLEAR + BRILLIANT = MAGICAL