Keep it simple

If you’re reading this post, you’re living in the extremely complex world of energy, conservation and/or sustainability. You’re working on Big, Complex Things all day long, and at some point you have to communicate with an intended audience about those things.

In our observation, that’s where the problem starts. We’ve worked with dozens and dozens of companies over the years who do wonderful things to make the world – and our environment – a better place. In fact, we haven’t met a client yet who had nothing worthwhile to say about their efforts related to conservation or social and environmental responsibility. The problem with most organizations we talk with is that they have so much to say, and they’re trying to say it all.

The Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) had a similar problem. With powerful businesses, they’ve created a remarkably ingenious approach to effect real environmental change in the supply chain. But while the process is effective, it, like the supply chain it was designed to impact, is also extremely complex.

So we sat down with EDF and evaluated the multiple entry points and endless moving parts of businesses’ supply chains, and we developed a story strategy that would not only communicate the effectiveness of EDF’s process but also provide some basic educational information on how the supply chain as a whole works.

The result was a compelling narrative that boiled down to a mechanically simple concept: the lever.

This video lives in the context of a web landing page we also created to further tell the story with plain-speaking words and a highly interactive infographic. The look and feel of it all is meant to make it approachable, to help the reader/viewer open up to a complex idea vs. turning away right off the bat because it looks too hard (which is how many sustainability stories come across … lots of explanation, much scientific/engineering speak). The end result is an engaging story that allows the intended audiences to understand the genius of the process and thus utilize the various tools to effect real change.

Many great ideas go unrealized not because they themselves are flawed but because of a failure to communicate them in a simple and concise fashion that will cause people to engage. It’s been said that clear is the new clever, and that’s being proven more relevant by the day as we’re bombarded by even more media, more messages, more ways to connect.

Successful brands and products find a way to communicate the complexity of their offerings in the simplest terms possible. So when it comes to telling your story, remember that people don’t want to be impressed by how complex something is. They want to be wowed by how simply and powerfully it functions.


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Posted on

August 12, 2015

About the Author

Matt Brass

Matt Brass

Matt steers the creative department in concepting, designing and producing all campaigns and collateral. With nearly two decades of marketing design under his belt, Matt has extensive experience in design, photography and videography, as well as blogging about the latest and greatest (or worst) ad campaigns out there. He leads our team on kayaking trips, too.

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Suzanne Shelton

President and CEO

Suzanne is the voice and the vision of Shelton Group. Drawing on her extensive experience in energy and the environment – and 25+ years in the marketing and advertising industry – Suzanne provides high-level strategic insights for our clients and guidance for our research and creative departments. She regularly speaks at conferences around the country, including Sustainable Brands, Fortune Brainstorm E and the International Builders’ Show, and serves as a guest columnist for publications like Fast Company, Green Builder and

Susannah Enkema

VP Research & Insights

Susannah directs our research team and plays a key role in extracting the nuggets of information that pave the way for recommended marketing strategies and creative approaches. Susannah has nearly two decades of market research and strategy experience, including her role as president of SE Consulting, where she led the services for the likes of DIY Network and the makers of GORE-TEX®.

Matt Brass

VP Creative

Matt steers the creative department in concepting, designing and producing campaigns. He ensures sound strategy and deep insights inform everything his team develops, and works closely with the accounts department to ensure copy and designs will meet our clients’ goals. As a designer and filmmaker himself, he’s also a principal contributor to all of Shelton’s in-house photography and videography work.

Courtnay Hamachek

VP Operations

Courtnay oversees our day-to-day operations to keep us running smoothly and support our growth. She establishes project management systems and processes to help our teams anticipate bottlenecks, prevent process issues, and keep projects on time and on target. Courtnay has built extensive experience over 25 years in all aspects of marketing, from account services and project management to design and production.

Aaron Crecy

Digital Marketing Director

Aaron is responsible for planning, executing and measuring digital marketing strategies for Shelton Group and our clients, with an emphasis on inbound, content, SEO, social media, email and paid initiatives. He constantly researches and explores new tactics and strategies to improve digital campaign performance and results.

Aaron brings to the table more than 20 years of marketing leadership experience with premium consumer-facing brands. He came to Shelton Group by way of Malibu Boats, where, as Director of Global Marketing, he oversaw strategic marketing planning and execution for multiple product lines, with specific emphasis on social media and digital. Prior to that, he served as CMO for a leading daily fantasy sports operator, guiding it from startup to the industry’s third-ranked site.

Scot Case

Senior Consultant

A sustainability strategy consultant since 1993, Scot has served as non-profit leader, as a partner in an environmental marketing firm that he grew and sold, and as an executive in a multi-billion-dollar, international company. He has published dozens of articles and case studies, was co-author of the original “Sins of Greenwashing” study, testified before Congress, and been quoted on NPR, Good Morning America, CNN, The New York Times, Business Week, and the Wall Street Journal. Scot was also highlighted in an Emmy award-winning documentary on sustainable purchasing.

Casey Ward

VP Account Services

Casey manages our relationships, growth and development with a specific group of clients that includes Environmental Defense Fund, Cotton LEADS and CertainTeed Insulation. She provides leadership and support for the account team members who manage the day-to-day processes for these clients. She contributes to strategic direction for each client and guides our creative efforts to ensure everything we do builds toward meeting – or exceeding – the client’s goals. Her ability to simultaneously see the big picture and pay close attention to the details helps her champion her clients’ needs and identify new growth opportunities for them.