“No brand can ever live up to the ideals of perfection that are represented in most corporate video campaigns.”

 

Do you know how difficult it is to find a stock image that represents “imperfection?”

Have a look. I’ll wait….

Sadly, 90% of the stock image searches for that term bring up images of women concerned with blemishes.

Imperfection is what drives evolution and change. Imperfection is real – it defines who and what we are. Perfection, we’re told, is something we should cherish – aspire to.

You’d think the concept of imperfection – being so basic, so representative of our true essence would be represented by hundreds of inspiring images that elegantly encapsulate the concept.

Nope.

So, I settled for nobby carrots.

A better approach to corporate video

The concept of imperfection is anathema to marketing – especially in corporate video.

Perfection is something we, as marketers strive for: Order, beauty and proper structure.

Balance.

Symmetry.

…but this approach isn’t working the way it use to.

Back in the fifties and sixties – in the ‘Mad Men’ era, print, radio and television ads told us what to think and how to act. We were shown how to get our ‘whites whiter’ and we were told how to achieve domestic bliss. And for a time, we all played along.

Since then, we’ve evolved.

All businesses now operate within the attention economy. This means there is more pressure to be relevant, to be authentic and more pressure to connect with your audience than ever before.

Guys like Casey Neistat and Gary Vaynerchuk have huge video followings because of their imperfections, not in spite of them.

Our collective skepticism (our ‘BS’ meter) is now at an all-time high. Today we’re looking for simple truths – things that we can relate to on a human level…

Wabi Sabi.

Wabi Sabi is a Japanese aesthetic that has many different interpretations and meanings but centers around the core tenets of simplicity and the natural beauty of imperfection.

Imagine being brave enough to show that you have a few chinks in the armor, that you’re not a perfect person or company. Sounds risky doesn’t it. It sounds like everything we’ve been fighting against most of our marketing lives.

Presenting the real story in a corporate video, the one with human flaws in it gives the viewer something they can actually connect with. Through our imperfections we deliver the subtle message that we’re showing ourselves, our product, our company as we really are… and this commitment to transparency is being rewarded with trust.

Some imperfect examples.

This first video was produced by the production house Variable as part of a positive awareness campaign by Pfizer on aging. It’s beautifully shot and tells a story that viewers of all ages can relate to. It’s simple, it’s positive and it turns our single biggest genetic flaw (we age…) into something a little less scary.

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Unilever has made imperfection one of the central themes of their leading personal care brand. Dove has had success with two different video campaigns that employ this Wabi Sabi aesthetic: The first was their Dove Evolution video that garnered a great deal of press and attention after challenging the true meaning of beauty and a more recent video series Dove Beauty sketches challenged woman to describe themselves to a sketch artist.

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Embracing the beauty of imperfection and the simplicity of a single powerful idea – two very important forces that cut through the distorted reality of the majority today’s marketing campaigns.

In the spirit of Wabi Sabi, it’s important to realize that no one can live up to the ideals of perfection that we continue to project into our corporate video campaigns. Instead, we can choose to celebrate our differences in a way that benefits everyone.

We owe it to ourselves, and to our audience, to consider representing our business and our products in a more realistic light.

Make sense?

Perfect.

 

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