For instance, an ugly, out-of-date brand — demonstrated in its website, signage, marketing materials, and brand identity — tells a story. And probably not a very good one.
You can see this when you walk into an old, industrial business: the carpets are threadbare; the furniture in the lobby is caving in and held together with tattered pieces of duct tape; the cubicles look like they were purchased in the 1970s.
Does this picture present an innovative company, or one barely hanging on?
Even if the company is wildly innovative and profitable, the visual experience does not present confidence, success, or credibility. And that’s why how your “brand” looks matters.
When I say brand, I mean it as a catchall for every customer touchpoint. Wherever your customers interact with your company, products, and services — they are judging with their eyes. How it looks presents a story; your brand story.
An Attractive Brand Is a Persuasive Brand
Attraction goes beyond marketing. It’s how we are wired. As human beings, we like pretty things.
In the late seventies, Dr. Shelly Chaiken, a researcher and expert in persuasion, ran a fascinating experiment. She recruited a group of students at the University of Massachusetts to persuade their fellow students to petition the university to ban the sale of meat products on campus.
As you can imagine, banning the sale of meat in the seventies was a pretty audacious request. Vegetarianism was not widely accepted, or even acknowledged, at the time.
What’s fascinating about the study is not the request, but the approach. The students recruited into the study were divided into two groups:
- One group were hot. They were individuals of “high physical appeal.”
- The second group were not. They were presenters of “low physical appeal.”
The hots and the not-so-hots.
Dr. Chaiken proved humans are influenced by attractive people. The students who received the message from the hot presenters were more inclined to agree that meat shouldn’t be sold on campus than the students who heard it from the not-so-hot presenters.
Think about that for a second. You may love meat. Steak is the best thing ever. But if a beautiful person approaches you, makes eye contact and smiles at you — your intelligence falls 10 points (at least). You may not agree, but the science says you’re more likely to say yes to a hot person.
Customers Choose Hot Brands
The same kind of behavior is happening with brands. Customers are more likely to choose attractive brands that they personally identify with than unattractive brands.
You don’t have to look far to validate this argument. Nike, Apple, Coca-Cola, Starbucks — they’re all stunning. Each brand takes great care and attention to how it looks at every customer touchpoint — from product to retail to advertising.
And frankly, there is no excuse to have an ugly brand. Design is completely within your control:
- If your website is out of date, update it.
- If your facilities are shabby, upgrade them.
- If your products and packaging need a makeover, stop procrastinating.
In the world of business decisions, fixing how your brand looks is easy. The only challenge is realizing that you have to keep at it.
Your Brand has a Shelf Life
The #1 reason brands look ugly is they are not maintained.
Every two to four years your brand needs a makeover. The most obvious place to see this is in your website. After three years, a website can look archaic. Imagine what that says to customers? I can tell you: it places your brand in the not-so-hot category.
Take design seriously. If your website is out of date, or you brand is looking like it needs a makeover, bite the bullet and get it done. Customers choose attractive brands first!
Written by Jeremy Miller