I use the phrase all the time, and even when I'm not saying it out loud I'm saying it to myself. It seems to be universally applicable but it resonates particularly well in branding and marketing, where the focus is usually on more: more calls to action, more features, more messaging, more noise...
Here are two of my favorite examples where less proves to be more:
Google's success is down to many things, but I'm convinced their less is more approach plays a major role. This is basically how Google started: Type something into this box and search for it. Perhaps they already had their sights set on world domination when it first went online, but they resisted the temptation to do everything and started with doing just one thing, and doing it well.
And most impressively, since its launch nearly 20 years ago very little has changed. Yes, there are many more facets to Google today, but google.com is pretty much still the same old search box. Compare that to Yahoo below. It's no surprise I can't really tell you what Yahoo does; I guess it's some kind of platform where a lot of stuff happens, but I'd rather stay far, far away from it.
For anyone starting a business: spare a thought for the Google search box. Instead of trying to perfect all 50 features of your tech start-up and constantly delaying the launch, try picking one feature that sets it apart from the rest and just launch that. Start small. Start with less.
Less is more in advertising. Most car brands agonize over how they can make their car seem like more than a car. The result is that the car gets compared to a cheetah, or the car is depicted on a beautiful stretch of road with the latest trending pop song. The hope is that the coolness of that cheetah or that song will somehow rub off on the car. What more can we add to this car to make it cool? It's a symptom of insecurity.
Audi decided that less is more and did the opposite. No Rihanna, no stretch of alpine road, no lion metaphor, no masculine voice-over, no sexy models, no fancy computer-generated effects. And why stop there? Less car is more car, right? Let's tear a chunk off the rear!
So is this a better car ad? Do people prefer it to other car ads? Yes it is, and yes they do.