Move Toward “Perpetual Beta” Reiterated on the Runway

14Sep08

I wrote this post for the Edelman Digital blog and thought I would share it here.

When I sat down with my latte and stack of glossy magazines this Saturday, my intention was completely confectionary: to immerse myself in the photos and anecdotes from New York Fashion Week and take a break from any thinking that was directly aligned with my work. Whether proof that strategic thinking is often inspired by unlikely sources or a sign that I’ve developed a one-track mind, about 10 minutes in I came across a quote that I found so important to my work.

In the bold type of Vs. Magazine, fashion director Vibe Dubelsteen asserted that what’s in this season is a complete contradiction to the cold, perfectly groomed lady like image we’ve seen in the past. She says, “The hat must be worn to the side of your head, the shirt buttoned up incorrectly. It is the beauty of mistake, the balance of the unbalance and a desire for the unexpected.”

Celine creative director, Ivana Omazik echoed this sentiment saying, “I believe in the beauty of life… and even of mistake. In that sense, I find myself in the Celine woman of today and not in some kind of iconic muse who is perfect but cold.”

I found this notion of “the beauty of mistake” and “the balance of unbalance” so incredibly relevant to the world of marketing. Our digital era has ushered in a new way of thinking about brands and how they present themselves to the world. We’re not clutching our pearls, putting on cover-up and hoping no imperfect, unedited or unplanned move or statement slips out. It’s, as Ivan states, cold and unrelateable. It’s also impossible considering the millions of self-publishers who serve as important fact checkers and critics who digest anything that seems canned and perfectly orchestrated.

The companies who are winning in this space have shown a more human side of the corporate entity. They’re giving the naked facts to the community who cares to hear them and they’re providing a platform to voice the varied perspectives of average customers and employees along with company decision makers and investors. Instead of leading us to their flash Web site or 30 second adver-narrative, the best ones are directing us to a striped down blog, Facebook or MySpace profile, or Twitter page where an openness of communication and an honest feedback loop speaks louder than a well crafted slogan. It’s the notion that business is in “perpetual beta,” not always perfect, not always balanced or appropriately buttoned up. And for that, we find ourselves relating and connecting to those companies, accepting their flaws and celebrating their willingness to appear so raw and relatively unedited.

The Style Imperative in Psychology Today recently stated, “Fashion is about your clothes and their relationship to the moment. Style is about you and your relationship to yourself.” I sincerely hope that this trend in communications catches on as a core style of doing business- not just because it’s a reflection of a company’s relationship to our digital “moment” but because a company has truly shifted the way it thinks about itself and its relationship with stakeholders.

*Disclosure: MySpace is an Edelman Client
Images from Vs. Magazine

-Amanda Mooney



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