An Advocacy Lesson in Minimalism: Less is More

In an age where advertisements of all forms constantly inundate our everyday lives, it is increasingly difficult to create a meaningful advertising campaign that stands out from the crowd. In an attempt to do so, advertisers are striving to grasp the enigma that is the modern-day consumer, only to get a glimpse of their fleeting attention spans.

An Overwhelming Attention Deficit

A recent study from Microsoft Corp. found consumers generally lose concentration after eight seconds, meaning that consumers now have attention spans shorter than goldfish. The report says “heavy multi-screeners find it difficult to filter out irrelevant stimuli – they’re more easily distracted by multiple streams of media.” With this being said, how can advocacy campaigns hold one’s attention for longer than eight seconds? Though the answer might surprise you, the key to capturing and holding an audience’s attention involves implementing minimalism in the design of advertisements.

Minimalism in advertising is becoming more prevalent — as illustrated in a recent New York Times campaign — but is not a particularly new or innovative concept. Despite minimalism’s long history in advertising, it seems that many have forgotten a successful campaign emphasizes quality messaging and the story behind it, rather than utilizing desperate, attention-grabbing techniques. Many advocacy campaigns are taking the approach that bigger, bolder and louder is always a better way to make an impact. This isn’t always the right method to drone out the noise, as most consumers are rightfully exhausted from being bombarded with constant, stale methods of advertising. In fact, a 2013 study shows that doing so often achieves an adverse effect, resulting in the dreaded brand resentment. By adopting the motto “less is more” and utilizing minimalism in advertising, your next advocacy campaign is sure to make an impact.

What is Minimalism and Why Does it Work?

According to Merriam-Webster, minimalism is a style or technique that is characterized by extreme sparseness and simplicity. In other words, minimalist designs often feature clean lines and white space, which allows the true meaning of a campaign to shine through. If you have a quality message or a unique story to tell, there is no need to distract the consumer with superfluous graphical elements. Minimalism gives consumers only one item to focus on, thus allowing them to process the key message of your advertisement.

In addition to its potential impact on a consumer, minimalist designs will also contribute to a more versatile campaign. Advertisements with minimal graphical elements and an emphasis on white space are easier to implement across various media channels. By design, these advertisements can be easily resized and repurposed for a plethora of different outlets, allowing your organization to create a broad campaign that reaches the entirety of your target audience.

All advertisers would agree that being different and setting yourself apart from the pack can have serious advantages. When considering your end goal, it would benefit your organization to cultivate an advertising campaign focused on being clean, concise and free of distractions. This minimalist approach will offer a break from what is now expected by consumers and in turn, they will more thoroughly absorb your message. I urge you to trust in the value of your message when building your next advocacy campaign, in order to influence the audience without distraction.