"We're duped into believing that the pretty, the pristine, and the perfect get all the perks, all the breaks, all the glory," says Vicki Kunkel in her book Instant Appeal. In many cases, she argues, the opposite is actually true. Obvious imperfections have their benefits—whether in your personal or corporate brands.
To make her point, she showed a diverse group of survey participants a series of split-screen images—each with one attractive person and one homely person—and asked questions like:
- To which of these two individuals would you feel more comfortable giving the keys to your house?
- If you loaned each of these people $50, which one do you feel would be more likely to pay you back?
She found that 67 percent would give their keys to the less attractive person; a whopping 82 percent, meanwhile, considered the homely group more credit-worthy. "Apparently we trust the average-looking among us more than the swans to be moral, helpful and honest."
According to Kunkel, the same principle applies to various aspects of corporate branding. A CEO who includes some dirty laundry in a speech will seem honest; an ugly Web site like craigslist or eBay will seem straightforward. In other words, ugly can work in your favor.
The Po!nt: "We're most appealing when we're being ourselves," says Kunkel, "warts (or moles or gapped teeth or dorkiness or oratorical clumsiness) and all. There is real power and panache in knowing and embracing our shortcomings, our flaws, and ourselves."
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