Is there such a thing as a perfect brand?

The illusion of brand perfection.

Branding is a big investment for a business. As such of course they want it to be perfect, but is the pursuit of perfection actually holding them back?

I was interviewed for a podcast last week called the Communication Paradox. We were discussing the tension between authenticity and perfection.

I enjoyed giving my thoughts on various questions around what authenticity means to brands and the process of branding. I came away energised. I want to discuss more, collaborate on the thoughts we gave birth to together. All exciting stuff. Shortly after though my excitement was replaced with doubt. I suffered an annoying inner monologue that went over the questions again in my head and re-did the answers… oh I wish I’d said this or why did I say that?… What’s more it’s forever ‘out there in the wild’ to be judged!

“Have no fear of perfection – you’ll never reach it.”

― Salvador Dali

The next morning, I put on Radio 4 in a precious hour I had to myself where I busied myself with tidying and listening. I stopped tidying and listened… The first broadcast was about music and in particular Otis Redding’s Dock of a bay. Three people were interviewed about what the song meant to them.

I listened as many gave poignant personal accounts of the song, all casting a different light on the lyrics. The studio manager where Redding recorded his songs noted that he always came to him with unfinished works, a chorus or opening rhythm. So it got me thinking about finality, of our need to perfect things before we share them with others. How much I wonder would the magic of that song been lost if Redding had toiled over it alone before sharing it with others. Was the act of sharing, of collaboration the thing that ignited a moment of genius and brought about a song that connects to so many people in so many ways? Perhaps. We will never know but I like to think so.

So thinking back to our podcast yesterday. The thoughts I shared were an unfinished work, a collection of ponderings captured in time shaped by my current and past preoccupations and the thoughts of those around me… and far from a finished work. It is in fact the unfinished nature of the conversation that makes it interesting, what more can I add, what more can others add to the coversation. Where shall we go next?

“You are allowed to be both a Masterpiece and a Work in Progress, simultaneously.”

Sophia Bush

In the world of branding, we can place a lot of emphasis on the finished, the polished presentation. The face that we present to the world must be guarded, screened for consistency, for mistakes that may cause our demise from favour. Of course we should be wary of typos, and remarks that may cause unreasonable offence. BUT we must not get hung up on perfection, all of our endeavours, business included, are works in progress. It is our openness to growth that connects us to others, that makes us relatable not only as a business but as a collection of humans.

Brands shouldn’t be placed on pedestals as untouchable art to be judged. They should contribute to our ongoing conversations, enrich our lives and add a section more of the forever unfinished patchwork that we call life on earth!