Authenticity, transparency, simplicity (and the Rule of Three)

Are we seeing a new trend? Authenticity, transparency and simplicity are by no means new words in the communicator’s lexicon, but they certainly seem to be cropping up more and more in articles, blog posts and in recent projects.

Ultimately, in the brand and engagement space I operate in, it’s all about organisational culture (“The way we do things round here,”) and how that feeds into a company’s reputation among its key stakeholder publics – employees, customers, investors.

I don’t know how many companies have asked themselves Solitaire Townsend’s million-dollar question, but it would seem that more and more businesses are cottoning on to the fact that behaving responsibly and sustainably is critical to their long-term prosperity; and, in turn, that authenticity, transparency and simplicity are key to establishing a believable commitment.

In tune with the rhetorical “Rule of Three”, the concepts are clearly interconnected and mutually reinforcing. Authenticity (something I like to define as “undisputed credibility”) is impossible without transparency; likewise transparency is impossible without simplicity.

And if anyone should doubt that simplicity is the, “supreme excellence,” as Henry Wadsworth Longfellow called it, reflect on this: complexity caused the recession.

How? For an accessible account of how the rise of mind-numbingly complex securities led to the fall of the banks, just check out the first programme in Evan Davis’ excellent City Uncovered series on the Beeb.

Why? Because complexity can be profitable. Because it provides a position for interpreters of that complexity. Because the easiest way to appear superior is to pretend to understand what others can’t. And because actively pursuing simplicity is actually bloody hard! 

As one of my favourite quotes puts it so eloquently:

“Any intelligent fool can make things bigger and more complex. It takes a touch of genius – and a lot of courage – to move in the opposite direction.”


3 thoughts on “Authenticity, transparency, simplicity (and the Rule of Three)

  1. David Ferrabee

    I really like your reasoning.
    Do you know the old story that there is more information in one edition of the New York Times than an 17th century man was exposed to in his entire life? Well, I quite like a good edition of the NYT. But what can my kids find on the Internet… Maybe, we are preprogrammed to be better at complexity over generations, and you and I are just old models!
    There’s a thought.


  2. kevinkeohane

    Amen to this, Dan. A continuation of our ongoing conversation … complexity, simplicity; authenticity, materiality. I’ve completed my business plan for global domination and you won’t be surprised to know that these themes and overall positioning loom large. The Truth shall set you free…



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s