Wouldn’t it be great if you could take everything ‘wrong’ with your business, and turn it into a powerful marketing tool?
Well, you probably can. It isn’t right for every organisation, but for those with a sense of humour and an edgy approach to communications, marketing brand flaws can be incredibly effective.
When a brand’s offering aligns with the concept of being ‘intentionally flawed’, its visual presentation is probably rough, its advertising simple, and its promises underwhelming. So, why would anyone deliberately draw attention to something strange about their own product or service?
It gives the brand a human-like quality.
Humans are terrible at being perfect — it’s an endearing characteristic we all share. When brands portray themselves as imperfect, they’re immediately relatable. As such, they connect with consumers more effectively. The brand becomes more approachable, more believable, and more authentic.
There’s nothing like company dishonesty to rattle customers.
No one likes feeling cheated, mistreated, lied to, or like they haven’t got their money’s worth. By embracing (or even promoting) brand flaws, you’re telling consumers exactly what they can expect.
Hans Brinker, a hotel in Amsterdam, is a brilliant example of this. Their website makes it clear that their accommodation isn’t fancy — or even above average.
“We are here, your bag is here, you will probably be somewhere else.”
“Welcome to Hans Brinker, quite honestly not the best.”
It’s unapologetic honest at it’s finest. They’ve turned their brand flaws into their biggest marketing tool, using wit and honesty to appeal to their market (and they’re nailing it).
It’s our oddities that make us stand out.
People like ‘different’ — in whatever context it may be. In his book, Non-Obvious, marketer and best-selling author, Rohit Bhargava, dissects this trend of ‘liking different’.
“Polarizing looks — people with unique features or lots of tattoos — get 10% more messages and dates than ‘conventionally attractive’ people. A lot of people are put off by them, but the people who like them, really like them. In other words, we are attracted to people who are more unique and stand out, even if they happen to be less perfect by traditional measures.”
It’s the same in business. Dieffenbach’s Potato Chips, Pennsylvania, expertly capitalised on being different with their chips, Uglies. They’re made with visually imperfect, perfectly edible potatoes that farmers would normally throw away. The company leveraged the product’s tagline, ‘Always Ugly, Always Delicious’, to put a positive spin on a negative notion. Brilliant.
Promoting brand flaws isn’t about intentionally selling a bad product or providing poor service. It’s about standing out. With the right framing, what seems like a weakness (a young team, a small space, a limited supply) could be your strongest selling point. When done right, portraying your organisation as not-so-perfect and promoting quirks can prove invaluable.