By Rex Hammock

“The KISS principle” was a short-lived business buzzword in the 1970s. Borrowing a U.S. Navy acronym (Keep It Simple, Stupid), it was the theory that business systems work best if they are kept simple rather than made complicated. 

Last week, I was reminded of the KISS principle while reading a New York Times interview with John Lilly, a partner at the Silicon Valley venture capital firm, Greylock Partners. When asked about early lessons in his career, Lilly responded, “I didn’t understand the role of simplicity and messaging early on. I would get bored saying the same thing every day. So I decided to change it up a little bit. But then everybody had a different idea of what I thought because I was mixing it up. If you’re going to change (your message), change it in a big way, and make sure everyone knows it’s a change. Otherwise keep it static.”

Too often, company leaders and marketers forget the KISS principle when attempting to communicate with employees and customers. Like Lilly, they grow tired of saying the same thing over and over each day, so they begin to change it up a little every time they speak to a new group.

Don’t fall into the trap of changing up your message because it’s growing boring to you. Remember, most of the people with whom you are trying to engage have never heard your message. Or, they’re like music fans attending a concert where they want to hear the hits, not the new stuff.

Lesson for marketers: A simple marketing message shared with consistency will not bore your customers. Rather, it will make your customers grateful you are still delivering the classics. If you want a different message, create something new.

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