If you’re feeling ambitious, read this study from the National Institutes of Health, The Simplicity Principle in Perception and Cognition, where researcher Jacob Feldman explains why people are biased toward simplicity. If you’re not up for it, we’ve summarized a few of its principles for you.
Most information is thrown away
The brain’s circuitry seems to minimize complexity involuntarily, throwing away almost all information as soon as it arrives. There are different theories on how much information the brain can hold onto when making a decision. Hint: 20 bullet points are too many. So are 10. For most people, so are five.
Memory and landmarks
The brain compresses information before storing it. So, in marketing, we need to pre-compress messages and create landmarks of ideas that are easy to remember, adding repetition. Once you’ve done that, it’s easier for people to manage subsequent information.
The risk of misinterpretation
The mind prefers a world where the assumption is underlying regularity. If confronted with complexity, there’s a high probability the brain is going to ignore it. It could also choose to simplify the content in a manner that it thinks makes sense — which could be the wrong interpretation. That feels like a potential problem for a marketer, doesn’t it?
Visual cues are essential
The brain needs a center of attention. Without it, it has a tendency to wander around looking for an area of focus. So, give it a center of visual attention. If you need stronger evidence as to why, read the 2016 study by Jeffrey Wammes, Melissa Meade and Myra Fernandes on research on visual memory. It will make you think twice about including all those numbers and figures in your next ad.
Trying to impress people with your writing makes you look stupid
“Complex writing makes you look stupid.” That’s according to Dr. Jeremy Dean and his studies on cognitive fluency. Yet, B2B writers of all types still lean toward jargon-filled, convoluted sentences that they hope will make them look smart. Writing simply is hard, but it’s totally worth it because it stands out and connects. Even better, people may actually think you’re pretty smart.