And finally, imperfection can be aesthetically pleasing in its own right, as the success of Dove with its ‘Campaign for Real Beauty’ shows. The Japanese even have a word for this – wabi-sabi – a view that celebrates the allure of the imperfect and incomplete. The wobbly line, the cracked leather, the faded patina – all draw, rather than repel, us.
Standout, empathy, attractiveness and trust – these are all qualities that define successful brands. So maybe it’s time for brand owners to embrace the power of imperfection.
There are advertisers that get this, and their ‘bravery’ is rewarded by more powerful communications than their perfect ‘everyone looks awesome’ adland competitors. Think of the overweight construction worker pole dancer (Moneysupermarket), Southern Comfort’s Whatever’s Comfortable’ beach hero, or the sweating women in ‘This Girl Can’. Their imperfections draw us to them. The brands feel more authentic. And we trust them more because of it.
So where are the ‘flaws’ in the personality descriptors that we craft for our brand definitions? We seem terrified to consider them – tying ourselves up in knots and qualifications to avoid any chinks of vulnerability or imperfection. Aspirational yet accessible’, ‘Strong but warm’ – we’ve all written them.