My attempt to answer the question "What is too minimal?"
My friend Carl wrote a post titled "What is too minimal?" some days ago. It's fairly short and you should go read it. In said post, he asks a series of questions that I'm gonna answer, or at least I'm going to attempt to.
At what point does minimalism become detrimental to a brand or user experience?
This to me has an obvious answer: from a brand perspective it's when you lose your identity and you become just another generic minimal brand. As for user experience, it's when users are starting to get a worse user experience. Sounds obvious but the tricky part is figuring out where that point is.
What is too minimal to succeed?
I think nothing is too minimal to succeed. I was a huge fan of a pizzeria that had no branding, no menus, didn't take reservations and most people didn't even know the name of the place. But the product was good and that was enough. The same is true for most things. If your product is good you can be stupidly minimal in all other departments. You just don't want to try to minimise quality.
Does light-touch minimalism just get lost in the crowd, devoid of personality? Conversely, how can a more extreme minimalism engage without losing character or appearing boring and uninspired? How can extreme minimalism for a brand be consistent across all platforms such as website, newsletter, and social media?
This is the tricky one. I think minimalism when it comes to branding follows a weird curve. If you try to be just a bit minimal then it doesn't work. You’re better off doing something else. If you push forward then you enter proper minimal branding territory that is unfortunately already super crowded. If you keep pushing though, you leave the minimal territory and enter almost the "unbranded" territory, that weird space where branding doesn't even matter or barely plays a role and the only thing that matters is what you're communicating. It's extremely hard to pull off. I'd say there's way too many "minimal" brands these days and it's getting pretty boring. As for being consistent, I think what matters is the message you're communicating. Because once everything else is minimised then the message is everything that's left.
As for this...
How is the right balance struck? Is it even possible? Would you rather play it safe and be guided by metrics? Or would you stick to principles come what may? Or is it better to compromise brand distinctiveness and coherence for the sake of growth and algorithmic obedience?
That is not a question I can answer. I know nothing about all these things and I'm a complete idiot when it comes to figuring these things out so hopefully someone else can attempt to answer this part.