The Problem with Perfection

Andy Lipscombe, Brand Strategy Director at FreshBritain was invited to join BBC 5 Live’s Nihal Arthanayake to talk alongside campaigner Chris Ward on the subject of brand perfectionism, and how it increases consumer anxiety and negatively effects well-being in society.

“Defining Perfection as an end state also defines it as quantifiable, but ultimately we think it is unattainable. We would argue that you are immediately setting yourself up to fail in that transaction, whether it is a brand or a product relationship.”

As part of our process we carry out competitor benchmarking, measuring what brands say about their brand and products, both rationally and emotionally. The word ‘perfect’ does regularly come up as a primary descriptor, but if everyone is saying they are ‘perfect’ then it just becomes white noise. We maintain that brands need to define their unique product mastery and then connect this to their brand essence.

“It’s interesting that Chris Ward mentions in his book that as a perfectionist it’s hard to build relationships. So if a brand is trying to project ‘perfectionism’ it’s not going to build long meaningful relationships with its consumers.”


“Brands need to define their unique product mastery and then connect this to their brand essence”


“We connect with brands like we connect with people. We connect most with people who are honest and who are self-aware and connect with their own vulnerabilities. Imperfect brands are more honest, they are more truthful, they embrace their own vulnerabilities and imperfections.”

“When we worked with Levi’s, that was our main starting point. We encouraged them not to sell the ‘perfect’ jeans, but to sell the jeans that you live your entire life in – your highs and your lows, the good times and the bad times. The jeans that become the biography of your life. It’s not a ‘perfect’ life but it’s a life well-lived.”

“From our perspective, when designing brands, we need to be that much more contemporary and future facing.”

Consumers are demanding brands that provide positive eco-systems – around responsibility, engagement, well-being, sustainability and positive personalised experience. Brands need to design optimal connections with new consumers based on these wants.