Perfection over progress: When purpose becomes a problem

Perfection over progress: When purpose becomes a problem

Perfection over progress: When purpose becomes a problem

Wen it comes to purposeful branding, the quest for perfection can often become a double-edged sword. Scott Somerville, Chief Marketing Officer of E.ON U.K., addressed this paradox in a thought-provoking session at Technology for Marketing. The discussion centered around the pitfalls of perfectionism in purpose-driven branding and how organisations can leverage imperfections to build stronger connections with consumers.


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Key Insights from Scott Somerville's Session:

1. Imperfections as Catalysts for Action

Somerville initiated the session by challenging the notion that perfection is the ultimate goal in purposeful branding. He emphasised that consumers, despite recognising an organisation's imperfections, crave brands that take tangible action on issues such as sustainability. Waiting for perfection, he argued, might lead to missed opportunities and a disconnect with evolving consumer expectations.


2. Urgency in Addressing Sustainability

The speaker underscored the growing societal momentum around sustainability, urging brands to act promptly or risk falling irreversibly behind consumer expectations. This call to action was rooted in the understanding that consumers appreciate proactive efforts even in the face of imperfections.

3. Confronting Fossil Fuel History for Authentic Conversations

Somerville shared a compelling example from E.ON U.K., where the energy company confronted its fossil fuel history head-on in campaigns. By openly acknowledging past shortcomings, the company sparked more authentic and constructive conversations with consumers. This transparency served as a counterintuitive strength in their marketing approach.

4. Honesty and Accountability as Trust Builders

One of the noteworthy revelations from E.ON's experience was that honesty and accountability around sustainability shortcomings built trust and yielded higher returns in marketing campaigns. Rather than hiding imperfections, embracing them became a pathway to forging genuine connections with consumers.

5. Humanising Sustainability Messaging

The speaker advised shifting the focus of sustainability messaging from statistics to human benefits. By highlighting the positive impact on individuals and communities, brands create more emotional connections with consumers. This approach goes beyond a mere presentation of data and resonates on a personal level.

6. Revealing Flaws for Meaningful Storytelling

In his conclusion, Somerville emphasised that revealing flaws humanises brands. Acknowledging imperfections enables more meaningful storytelling, fostering authenticity and connection. This approach, he argued, stands in stark contrast to the pitfalls of maintaining a facade of perfection, which can lead to a disconnect with consumers seeking genuine engagement.



Scott Somerville's session at Technology for Marketing serves as a compelling reminder that the pursuit of perfection in purposeful branding can hinder progress. Imperfections, when embraced and leveraged authentically, have the power to strengthen connections with consumers. In a world where transparency and accountability are increasingly valued, the path to building trust lies not in perfection but in the courage to acknowledge, address, and learn from imperfections. This session provides invaluable insights for organisations navigating the delicate balance between perfection and progress in their purpose-driven branding journey.

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