Wabi Sabi is a traditional Japanese term that very roughly means “nothing is perfect, and we like that.” It’s a particularly apt concept for today. It’s a funny contradiction, in these times of incessant automation and computer-driven systems and robotic assembly lines, that some companies are finding success in letting their hair down a bit, and exorcising their inner control-freak. In fact, most new game-changing technologies require it. And, according to trendwatching.com, 2012’s consumers demand it.
This year, consumers won’t expect brands and businesses to be flawless; they will embrace their flaws because they are looking for more empathy, generosity, humility, flexibility, maturity, humor and ultimately, some character and humanity – whether it’s from the big department store down the road or a new real estate development they’re considering.
Enter the world of social media, an arena where everyone is required to relax, and roll with the punches. The days of micro-managing brand perceptions by micro-managing the messages are over as soon as a company crosses the social media threshold. It’s one of the biggest fears I hear from my real estate clients as we gently prod them into trying out new communication tools like Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and the like. They are worried sick that if they open up their brand to millions of online conversations and comments, someone might say something mean. The cold hard truth is, if there is something mean to say, it’s already being said. You can choose to know about it, or you can choose to remain oblivious. Those are your only two choices. Stopping the mean thing from being said in the first place is not an option. You can’t control what is being said. But you can participate in the conversation, and, at least, have a chance to tell your side of the story.
So what are you waiting for?
The rules of Wabi Sabi apply to you too. A little roughness makes things human. It’s ok to let down your guard a bit. People will love you for that. It’s OK to give up some control of your brand messages, engage in meaningful dialogue, and, as a result, benefit from deeper more resonate relationships with your customers.