When good enough is good enough

Sometimes it is, sometimes it isn’t. It depends…

When I used to work at Unilever on the Dove brand there was an extremely strict approach to keeping an eye on the detail, to being intellectually thorough and to adhering to guidelines for everything, right down to the melody and tone of a piece of music in advertising. There was even a respect for accuracy and detail in PowerPoint slides used internally; studiously observed and errors often called out no matter how minute. I learned to respect this, it made me passionate about details, and in turn demonstrate passion for my brand. On a massive global brand like Dove it made sense. If you weren’t passionate about the detail, how could you expect extended partners to treat it the same way? It’s something I used to liken to perhaps how Steve Jobs ran Apple. It was infectious and set the army working on the brand all in same direction.

What I’ve learnt, however, is that there’s a limit to applying the exact same rigid approach in some contexts in today’s world. Especially when you are running with limited resources and as the competition becomes more intense and more agile. When time is of the essence and the priority is to get results quickly and learn quickly, and there’s a time and place for being strict about the details.

Personally I struggle with the statement ‘good enough is good enough’ – the tone of it even irks me – it sounds defeatist, and that’s not my jam. However, I do think that sometimes getting things out the door and trying things, even if they are not 100% perfect, is better than delaying and missing the window of opportunity.

There is a famous quote by Reid Hoffman, the founder of LinkedIn, which embodies the entrepreneurial mindset I believe a lot of brand marketers are beginning to adopt today:

“If you are not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late.”

 

In crafting a new product, I wouldn’t necessarily hold this to all aspects of the brand and product mix. For example disappointing your customer on product quality will often get you in hot water in the end, and having a miss-match of elements overall in the mix (packaging with formula with communication) will limit your impact. BUT, obsessing over the perfect line of copy on the pack, or the precise gradient of color on the carton, or the exact tag line in a digital advertising execution may just slow you down.

Certainly when it comes to advertising, the use of A/B testing and the potential to quickly test something with new methodologies or even crowdsource answers means that refinement of the solution can come after some exposure.

I leave you with a rousing speech from Charly Haversat, a recovering perfectionist. She eloquently explains the merits of “good enough” more holistically in life. But she also speaks to how embracing this when appropriate can transform a corporation from a culture of fear to one of innovation. Isn’t that what brands need in today’s fast-moving world?

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