52n52 Book Review: Insanely Simple by Ken Segall
One thing I need to work on is not judging a book by its cover. Insanely Simple really grabbed me – much like all Apple products grab me – and had all the trappings of something really good. First, Ken Segall, the author, is a creative that I have read a lot about, and I knew he worked with Lee Clow on the Think Different campaign for Apple’s resurgence in 1997. Then there was the book cover itself: black type on a white background – look familiar? And last, the title of the book: Insanely Simple. For the past 15 years, Apple has owned simplicity in its advertising, branding, and packaging. It’s what we as consumers have come to expect from a brand whose products themselves are innately simple.
I wanted this book to be awesome. I really did. This was the first book I read on my iPad mini (a bit of a cliché, I know). So, why didn’t I like the book? Well, it went against the very title of the book; it wasn’t simple. Segall spends 225 pages praising the virtues of simplicity when he could’ve done it in 50. Insanely Simple would be a great white paper or even a case study on TBWA/Chiat’s process in creating campaigns for Apple. Instead, it’s a rambling book on good vs. evil, Mac vs. PC, simplicity vs. complexity.
On page 195, the author sums up my argument when he says, “I’ve yet to meet a paragraph that couldn’t lose a few more words – even if it’s been trimmed multiple times before. If you work harder and look more closely, there’s always something you can whittle away. It’s when you get to the essence of your idea that you’ll have something to be proud of.”
Now don’t get me wrong, there are some great points in this book as well as a few peeks behind the Chiat creative curtain, but not enough of either to make Insanely Simple worth a purchase.
My favorite part of this book was from the man behind Apple’s simplicity, Steve Jobs, who 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.”
This review is the eighth installment of ‘52n52,’ our weekly marketing and advertising book review series.
→ Patrick Kearns, Creative Director, AREA203 Digital; follow… @noeyeinpirate