We’re exposed to thousands of informational messages every day. As marketers, how do we get our targets to see, hear and remember what we want to say?

One way to cut through the clutter is to take the path followed by great artists: simplify, reduce and focus.

Too often, we try to say too much. In the noisy world we live in, we just need to say less. No matter how much you tell them, most readers remember only one thing. By simplifying our communications to just one or two main points, and presenting them in a memorable way, we improve our chances of retention.

“Impression: Sunrise,” Claude Monet (1872)

Artists — such as poets, painters, playwrights and even cartoonists — strip away the confusing parts of the human condition to reveal its essential truths. Their work usually focuses on one idea that reflects their point of view on the world.

In design terms, they remove the clutter of everyday life and replace it with white space to help us focus on what’s important. They make the complex simple.

As marketers, we should do the same: Figure out the single, most important idea and strip away unnecessary information so the main idea comes through clearly. And frame it in an engaging package (story and design) to make sure our audience enjoys spending time with it.

We call ourselves modern, but we process information in traditional ways. Marketing communications can benefit from classical form as taught by the ancient Greeks and recreated by artists over the centuries. According to Aristotle, stories should have a beginning, middle and end. Plots need excitement. Characters should be appealing and sympathetic. Focus is everything.

Our world may seem more jumbled than ever before, but that’s all the more reason to return to simple, recognizable forms in our marketing communications. Structure and form promote clarity and understanding, especially in our over-stimulated environment.