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Less, But Better

Updated: Jan 28, 2019

An iconic industrial designer’s principles offer guidance for effective business strategies.

“An impenetrable confusion of forms, colours, and noises,” concerned Dieter Rams 40 years ago. As reported by Vitsoe, this prompted the industrial designer, celebrated worldwide for his functional, unobtrusive furniture and product designs, to develop his 10 Principles for Good Design.

Rams summed up his design philosophy as “Less, but better,” which one of his clients, appliance-maker Braun, uses as a marketing slogan.

In support of his principles, Dieter Rams advocates “disregarding anything that can possibly detract from usefulness,” and “concentrating on the essential aspects, and not burdened with non-essentials.” He stresses “making a product understandable” and using “as little design as possible.”

Interestingly, the focus and simplification emphasized in Dieter Rams’ principles offer guidance for effective business strategies too.

Works for business strategies too

As a business, marketing, and sales strategist, I often observe a confusion of priorities, products, and messaging in the companies I see. Here are my 10 principles for good business and marketing strategies to unravel these complications and confusion:

1) Identify the most compelling market opportunity

2) Focus on the most compelling market opportunity

3) Throw aside the least compelling market opportunities as quickly as able

4) Identify the unique benefit of the product

5) Determine and focus on the best target prospects

6) Determine the product positioning

7) Make the messaging go to the heart of what the best prospects care about

8) Stress the benefit, not the features, in the messaging

9) Make the messaging clearly understandable

10) Put the business and marketing strategies in writing

The biggest mistake I see companies make is a failure to define and focus on their compelling opportunities.

I admit it is not easy to do, as there are never-ending temptations to pursue new avenues, and saying goodbye to revenues from mediocre business lines can be very challenging.

Nevertheless, if a company is ever to have a bright future, and reach its full potential, clarity, simplification, and focus on the compelling opportunities and messages are the only way to go.

Steve Jobs agreed

Apple’s visionary, Steve Jobs, certainly knew the importance of both good product design and clear business strategies. Here’s what he said: “That’s been one of my mantras---focus and simplicity. Simple can be harder than complex. You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it is worth it in the end, because once you get there, you can move mountains."

“Less, but better” is all about focus and simplicity. While the process to prune business and marketing strategies back can be difficult, it is worth the effort to get there.

Shep Burr is President of Kingfisher Growth Strategies, which helps medium- and small-sized businesses achieve ambitious goals with focused, transformative solutions. Shep has spent his career developing business, marketing, and sales strategies that deliver explosive revenue and profit growth. See more about how to make your business boom at


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