Sia, the Australian singer and songwriter extraordinaire, got off to a slow start. Her first three albums fizzled away and failed to connect with an audience. It wasn’t until her fourth album, Some People Have Real Problems, that her music began to really take off.
From there, Sia has gone on to carve out a role as not only a successful singer in her own right but the go-to writer for the world’s biggest pop stars. Her songs have been recorded by Beyoncé, Rhianna, Britney Spears and led to collaborations with the likes of Kanye West, Beck and Eminem.
When asked about her change in fortune she put it down to one thing – simplicity. Sia has described her early songs as being too multi-layered and full of overly clever lyrics. By stripping back her writing and working with simple metaphors, Sia discovered a style millions could understand and relate to.
It’s this simplicity that many brands today seem to ignore when making advertising. I’ve lost count the number of times I’ve sat and watched an ad and wondered ‘what was all that about?’. I’ve been writing adverts for years, if I don’t understand it, what chance has some time-poor parent or impatient teenager got?
The problem arises from the process in which ads are created. Campaigns are made by people who have one thing consumers don’t – a deep knowledge of the brand. No one knows the ins and outs of a product quite like the client and the agency. But somewhere along the line, many seem to forget this. This results in ads that either don’t fully explain themselves or, worse still, go in the opposite direction and cram in numerous product facts.
Ads are not what consumers live for. Ads go in front of or by the side of things consumers live for. They won’t be poring over each second or pixel – they’ve got better things to do. If a brand has any chance of making a connection, it’s essential to strip away the multiple proof points and communicate one simple message as effectively and as interestingly as possible.
It’s far better an audience remembers only one thing about your brand than nothing at all.
Sia performing Chandelier on Saturday Night Live ’15.