How I First Learned to KISS

June 10, 2016  |  Victoria Simmons

Thinking Big

I didn’t know it at the time, but I first learned to KISS way back in elementary school. It was where I was taught that most things work best if they are kept simple. Wait … you didn’t think this post was about becoming a top-level kiss master did you? KISS is an acronym for “Keep it simple, stupid”.

This design principle was made popular by the US Navy back in the 1970’s and states that most systems work best if they are kept simple, rather than made more complicated. Engineers and even marketers adopted this phrase to remind themselves that their disciplines were far from stupid, in fact quite the opposite. Simplicity is actually rather difficult.

As Albert Einstein said “Everything should be made as simple as possible. But not simpler.” That’s probably why as marketers today we have completely abandoned the notion of simplicity. We thrive on complexity. We’re obsessed with gathering more and more data. Developing attribution models. Creating content 24/7, and using fancy words like programmatic, gamification, newsjacking and bespoke.

While some of these things are important and valuable, too often we let ourselves get bogged down with complexity. We forget that our jobs are simple – to motivate people. Motivate people to buy something. Experience something. Spark people into action. And in the case of travel, inspire someone to take that bucket-list trip.

In a recent BVK study, we learned that very few consumers feel inspired by any travel brand. Imagine that. A high-aspiration category like ours has forgotten how to tap into the latent desire to travel.

A panel of industry experts, interviewed as part of the study, tells us that travel suppliers in particular assume people will travel and ignore their role in inspiring travel or driving demand. They’re simply competing at the bottom of the purchase funnel on features, benefits and pricing (and also employing some pretty slick digital targeting strategies to do it).

But BVK research indicates that playing exclusively at the bottom of the purchase cycle leaves additional revenue on the table. Those brands that can connect with consumers at a human level, based on a set of shared values, stand to gain the most both in the short and long-term.

Consumers are people, not numbers. They laugh, they cry. They have hopes and dreams. And they’re drawn to brands that can help them bring those dreams to life. Let’s not get so bogged down in the analytics and mechanics of what we do that we forget the human side of the business. Fundamentally this is what drives success — the ability to motivate and inspire people. So, remember to KISS.

This blog is an excerpt from a proprietary research presentation. You can learn more and schedule your own presentation here.


Victoria Simmons
is a VP Group Account Director at BVK

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