Feb 8, 2012

We DO Judge A Business By Its Cover

You were probably taught not to judge a book by its cover. But let’s be frank, you do. We all do. We can’t help ourselves. We judge with our eyes.

Not only do we judge books by their covers, we judge businesses by their brands. What we see and experience influences are perspective on a company. A company could deliver amazing products or services, but if their brand doesn’t reflect what’s inside the business then we doubt them.

What does an outdated website say about a company’s expertise?
What does a dirty, dingy office say about a company’s culture?
What does a grouchy employee say about a company’s service?
What does cheap packaging or marketing collateral say about a company’s quality?

These items may be overlooked internally, but your customers do not overlook them.

Does your business “impute?”

I had not come across the word “impute” before reading Walter Isaacson’s book, Steve Jobs. Isaacson wrote,

“Early on, Mike Markkula had taught Jobs to ‘impute’ – to understand that people do judge a book by its cover – and therefore to make sure all the trappings and packaging of Apple signaled that there was a beautiful gem inside. Whether it’s an iPod Mini or a Macbook Pro, Apple Customers know the feeling of opening up the well-crafted box and finding the product nestled in an inviting fashion.”

I love it. The box is as important as the product. It sets the expectation, and initiates the relationship.

Does your business impute? Does the packaging and expression of your brand reflect the quality of your products and services?

Create a cohesive experience

When your brand doesn’t reflect your business it creates dissonance.

Your customer sees one thing, but experiences another. This disconnect creates uncertainty, and causes them to second guess their purchase decisions. If they’re making a major purchase they may do more due diligence and talk to other vendors. If it’s a minor purchase they may just pass over it, and not give it a second thought.

You’ve got to avoid dissonance at all costs. Fear, uncertainty and doubt slow down sales, increases competition and increases price pressure. Price pressure is probably the worst symptom of dissonance. When you’re customers can’t see the value in your products, they fall back to evaluating them on price. And it’s hard to deliver a remarkable brand when your customers can’t see the value in your services.

(Image by Mette Ohlendorff)

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