It was week two of the NFL season, and I was at Invesco Field at Mile High to watch Denver take on Seattle. It wasn’t even close, but like most fans I stayed until the very end.
I went to a movie the other night. It sucked, but I stayed until the very end. I didn’t see anyone else leave either, but everyone I spoke to still hated it.
The human mind hates the incomplete. We strive to draw conclusions, figure things out, and wrap them up in a nice package that makes sense.
If the human mind seeks completion, it stands to reason that the incomplete challenges the mind and engages it.
Remember the powerful silence near the end of “Animal” by Def Leppard? The entire song comes to an abrupt halt leaving nothing but silence for slightly longer than seems natural, before Joe Elliot screams “… and I want…” and the song carries on for 10 more seconds.
“Living On The Edge” by Aerosmith did the same thing, as did “The Look” by Roxette.
Of course we can’t forget ”Strawberry Fields Forever”, a Beatles classic that fades out and leaves only silence behind, and then gradually fades back in again. As a radio DJ it was painful to watch the VU meters sink down to nothing for several seconds during that song!
Incomplete is a pretty powerful tool. Visually, it is known as white space. FedEx used white space to create the famous arrow in their logo. You’ve never noticed the arrow? Have a look at the incomplete space between the “e” and the “x” in their logo below. You’ll never see that logo again without noticing the arrow.
Toblerone chocolates is another logo that famously uses the white space. They are made in Bern, Switzerland. “Bern” means “bear” in English, so they’ve creatively worked a bear into the white space of their mountain logo.
So many brands are afraid of the incomplete! Volkswagen bravely used white space and an incomplete look in their early print campaigns, and as a result they created award-winning and attention-getting creative that helped make the Beetle a massive success.
Fear not the incomplete. Use it to your advantage.
What you leave out speaks volumes.
DaVinci and Michaelangelo were not afraid of the incomplete. Nor were Led Zeppelin or The Beatles. And a cult-brand burger shack in the southwestern US has made a business out of it. You can read more about the power of the incomplete in this piece from March 2010.
Or if you’d prefer to rock out 80′s style, you can sit back and wait for the famous silence 3:55 into this Def Leppard classic.