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K.I.S.S - The Power Of One Color Designs

Keep it Simple Stupid A simple one-color design is really all you need to get things started! The biggest companies and brands in the world not only survived but thrived starting from a one-color design.

As the great Michael Scott once said, Keep it simple stupid :) I love this acronym because many of us try to over-complicate designs for the sake of trying to be more unique than they really need to be!

Simplicity is a key design principle. Something which is easy to understand and is more likely to be adopted and engaged with. Wherever possible, complexity should be avoided — as simplicity guarantees the greatest levels of user acceptance and interaction.

KISS Principle In Design- Things to keep in mind

1. You can use different colors for different projects, content, etc. But you really simply just need your logo to be recognizable and easy to replicate.

Use the original design as a seed to grow from. Meaning it may/can be simply yellow arches but over time it can create your brand to be so much more than just that.

The best example of this is Nike. The logo is a simple swoosh but it is seen to be used in many different ways, colors, and content over time.

2. People like simple. While occasionally they will go and get something out of the norm, most people day to day will wear something they feel comfortable in. Some of the most popular garments worn and sold are shirts and garments with a simple logo on them.

3. When using the KISS principle when designing, think about your customers.

For example, trade businesses like construction, plumbing etc. - having a logo that is or can adapt to a one-color design might be ideal to be able to keep printing costs low, display what the company does and use that to brand. On the other hand, if you are a graphic designing or marketing company then a design with a lot of colors might actually help attract more customers.

Like most business tools and advice, it is dependent on what works best for your business and what you want your design to accomplish.

“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.”

– Steve Jobs

4. Keep on learning and seeking to improve your designs and products. Over time as your company grows, you are allowed to change brand and design. This is not something you would like to do more than often but possibly a couple of times over the life of a business.

A great example is Netflix, their logo used to be colored with shading and reflections but at a certain point, they rebranded to the new one color red logo recognizable anywhere. If the logo you have is not working for you, adjust it to customers and needs to increase impressions.

Alternatives to KISS

KISS is related to a fair number of other famous quotes, phrases and principles. Among them to mention but a few are:

  • Albert Einstein’s – “Make everything as simple as possible but not simpler” (it is possible that Einstein never actually said this and it was actually a paraphrase of something he said during a lecture but the principle remains sound).

  • Leonardo Da Vinci’s – “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication”.

  • Ludwig Mies Van Der Rohe’s – “Less is more”

  • Bjarne Stroustrup’s “Make Simple Tasks Simple!”

  • Antoin Marie Jean-Baptiste Roger, comte de Saint-Exupery’s “It seems that perfection is not reached when there is nothing left to add but when there is nothing left to take away.”


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