The surprising value of complexity

Complexity is often viewed as a negative – but it can be a great opportunity for your brand.

4 minutes read | Michael Gough

The surprising value of complexity
The surprising value of complexity

If your organisation has a storied legacy, it’s likely that it’s also complex.

And there are a number of factors that bring about this complexity: the number of customers you have, the number of products and services you deliver, how many countries you operate in, how many people you employ.

On top of all that, the extent to which people collaborate and multi–task in your organisation will also increase complexity.

In short, if your organisation has grown at all it will have become more complex.

This complexity has an impact on your brand. Messaging gets muddled. It becomes easier to lose sight of what you stand for. And before long, your brand can start to lose relevance.

So is complexity the kryptonite of brands?

Complex = Bad?


In most businesses, complexity usually has negative associations. 

Inefficient. Slow. Cumbersome. Confusing.

The understandable reaction is to try and streamline. Battle against the complexity. Eliminate it if possible.

But when it comes to your brand, trying to eliminate complexity isn’t just unrealistic. It’s unwise.

That’s because the complexity of your business is part of your story.

And whilst you don’t want to bombard your audience with complexity, you don’t want to dumb down who you are either.

It’s often in the complexity that’s built up over time that you discover a new way of expressing your organisation’s relevance.

The challenge is to bring out the most important elements of your organisation and capture important nuances. And package all this up into a clear, compelling message.

Sound difficult? 

It is. But revisiting your brand in light of your organisation’s rich history can deliver rich rewards.

Give complexity a chance


Growing complexity gives an organisation the chance to look at itself. What was your original vision? Where are you now as an organisation? 

This is where you need to consider whether your brand is still relevant, internally and externally. Your brand essence should be something that your workforce can unite around. And externally, it should give you a chance to deepen relationships with your existing audience and engage new ones.

Reviewing your brand helps you re–focus. There’s lots that you could say. But what’s the glue that holds everything together? What’s going to make you distinct? 

This is where it helps to have an outsiders’ perspective. When you’re on the inside, it can be 

difficult to bring an objective assessment to your brand. A third party can more easily identify from your heritage what’s going to resonate most with your audience. 

A simple process


At Sparks, we specialise in delving into organisations’ legacies. This enables us to help our clients find their focus and cut through the noise in today’s crowded marketplace.

We bring a rigorous approach that questions your organisation to find out what makes it distinctive for a changing audience. 

Our process is clear and methodical. It’s set up to discover what’s essential, not just what’s important. This enables us to bring an illuminating clarity that expresses the essence of your brand, creating one narrative out of many possible ones.

We ‘simplify well’ throughout. In other words, we capture what’s most resonant from your heritage without losing important nuances. 

This is challenging in all sorts of ways – but it’s the only route to finding an emphasis that’ll give you an edge.

As Steve Jobs said: “Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.”

So we don’t airbrush out complexity. Rather, we express complexity simply, creating a brand that’s focused on what really matters for your changing audience.

But it doesn’t stop there. It requires vision to see the directions that your brand could go. The combination of our optimism and design–led thinking helps us show you how you can achieve more than you thought possible. 

The end result is a brand that emerges from the complexity and clearly expresses your relevance for today.

So don’t run for complexity. Embrace it and see it as an opportunity to strengthen your brand.



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