Perfecting imperfection ..

Cafe de Flore - Paris

Do we really want everything to be absolutely perfect?

I absolutely love those places, products or services where you get a genuine, authentic experience that connects with you in a particular way that just cannot be beaten.

The magic ingredient is that besides being great at what they do or sell they have maintained some element that is actually imperfect and genuinely authentic, which is what makes them extra special.

You know what I am talking about .. that market stall, that character pub, that artisan cheese, that hotel with character, that boutique with unusual labels, that restaurant or coffee shop with a great buzz. In these places the crooked pictures on the wall, the charismatic character behind the counter, the candles burning in the wine bottles and the unusual product packaging all actually make the experience better instead of worse.

Just think of Cafe de Flore in Paris – expensive, chic, atmosphere and yes .. perfectly, imperfect!

The opposite is the franchise hotels, shops, restaurants and coffee shops where you get the standard experience, the same look and feel and staff well trained in executing the standard operation manual. Operating at their best you are guaranteed a good experience but you will never get that little bit of magic and authenticity.

Maybe, just maybe the manual needs to be loosened a little so that the local manager can be encouraged to do something authentic and get closer to being perfectly imperfect?

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion Communications

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3 Responses to “Perfecting imperfection ..”

  1. Joachim Says:

    When i see all the images with imperfect (=terrible) quality that are taken just to generate an “artistic” impression, i do believe that imperfection has a future. But then one has to be careful which imperfection to perfect. I hope that Cafe de Flore is trying to be perfect in the quality of the food that they serve!

  2. Joseph Cotter Says:

    Talk of caf├ęs in Paris, or any establishments in major metropolis (metropoli?), generally leave me cold as they have little bearing on how we conduct business in the retail trade in Ireland; the comparative footfall in our small cities renders comparisons meaningless – but in this case you do have a point…

    The clinical symmetry of the large department stores and multiples does nothing to generate a sense of difference’ and it’s this opportunity that smaller retailers must hone in on – to create an ‘experience’ that will bring the customer back (and back more than once!).

    My old boss was a great believer in ‘presentation’ but at the same time never wanted things to be too perfect; he was not averse to leaving a few half-opened boxes lying around the shop for curious customers to have a root around. It’s a ploy I still use occasionally.

    Keep posting!

    Joe Cotter

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