What Dr. Seuss can teach brief writers.

How many words and phrases can you think of to express “simplicity”?

Here are a few that come immediately to mind:


Occam’s Razor

I love this one from Albert Einstein, and I’ve written about it before: “If you can’t explain it to a six-year-old, you don’t understand it yourself.”

Less is more.

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” Claire Booth Luce

Liberating Constraint.




And on and on. The list is enormous.

We have an annoying capacity to take simple things and complicate the hell out of them.

But the geniuses among us always find a way to bring us back to, well, simplicity.

One of my favorite examples is a story about Dr. Seuss. He challenged himself to write a book using only 50 unique vocabulary words. Forty-nine of them, it turns out, are only one syllable. The story is, today, the 8th best-selling English language children’s book of all time, which Dr. Seuss published in 1960.

Do you know the title? You probably read it or heard about it.

Green Eggs and Ham.

So the next time you sit down to write a creative brief, remember the challenge Dr. Seuss gave himself. You might allow yourself more than 50 words and they don’t have to be monosyllabic. But if he can tell a story that resonates more than 70 years later with so few words, certainly you can write a brief with as much simplicity.

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