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Sending out an S.O.S.

March 27, 2024

Written by Simon Kearney | Graphics by Jonathan Joseph

Each year I try to come up with a little mantra that we can use as a guide for our endeavours in the year ahead. For this one, I was inspired by something I read in a short story by Amy Hempel, an American writer who was popular in the 1980s. 

The story was about a family who entered old-fashioned breakfast cereal competitions. These are the pre-Internet promotions where you write to the company and say, in 25-words or less, why you like the product. The dad in the family has a sure-fire method, he calls it S.O.S. for simplicity, originality and sincerity. 

As a methodology it struck me as the completely-bloody-obvious secret to great creative. I’d like to think the writer is quietly outlining her approach to short story writing here. It’s the sort of thing we do without thinking and that’s why I think it’s worth highlighting. 


Simplicity is critical because everything needs to be presented in ways that are easy to understand. 

Complexity is the refuge of the incompetent. Whereas simplicity is the making of something memorable. Simplicity is required for readability, it is the substance of share-ability. 


Striving for originality is often forgotten these days – we all just want to get on with our work and have it accepted. But in this world of AI-driven content creation, striving for a vein of originality in all our work is even more important. This means testing out ideas. Trying various approaches. Making your fundamental decisions along the lines of, is this adding something original to what we’re doing here? Take risks. 


The final one, sincerity, is about putting some of yourself into the work. It is all about point of view. Making something real, something authentic. What do I bring to this? You should be asking yourself this question. This is not just adding a little heart to your work, but giving it your stamp. It might only be a small thing, but it is your signature. You own it then. 

None of us want to be derivative, but a lot of work in our field follows familiar themes. Think of the design style Corporate Memphis we wrote about in our blog back in 2022. 

As creatives and as an agency, we need to be developing a simple, sincere, originality-first approach to our work in order to stand out. Simplicity, originality and sincerity are all that you need to inspire others with your work and creativity. 

Read more from Click2View:

  1. When Citizens Become the Press
  2. Which channel are you ignoring at your peril?
  3. Don’t be a noob. Here’s how to avoid visual cliches and make your content stand out.
  4. Riding content waves in a post-viral world

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Click2View is Southeast Asia’s premiere full-service independent B2B content marketing agency servicing clients like Microsoft, Google, Visa, Prudential, and the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy.