Jackson Browne is famously quoted as saying “rehearsal is for cowards”.
Overly rehearsed performances are stilted, awkward, and inhuman.
Rock stars rehearse until they are damn good, but when they hit the stage they just let it flow.
The great ones change the set list on a moment’s notice to take advantage of the crowd’s vibe.
The great ones screw up along the way, laugh out loud, and keep on rockin’.
They savor the moment, smile until it hurts, give their fans everything they’ve got, and leave the stage a sweaty, tired mess.
Aren’t great brands just the same?
More than perfect, great brands are human.
One of the iconic moments in Steve Jobs’ leadership of Apple was during the messy iPhone 4 antenna controversy, when it was discovered that the phone’s antenna was ineffective if you held the phone a certain way. It dropped calls. It was far from perfect.
Steve Jobs flew home from vacation in Hawaii to address it head on.
“We aren’t perfect,” he told the world. “And phones aren’t perfect.”
Jobs didn’t stop there. “We love our users,” he said. “We love to to surprise and delight them, and we work our asses off to make that happen. When we fall short, which we do sometimes, we try harder, we pick ourselves up, we figure out what’s wrong, and we try harder, and when we succeed they reward us by staying with us.”
Despite the issues, iPhone 4 sales increased in the days after his press conference. Returns actually dropped to levels well below the industry average.
Be real. Be human.
Yes, rehearse. To a point. Then stop and just do it.
You cannot afford to be mediocre.
But you also cannot afford to be to be robotic, awkward, and inhuman.