I Almost Always Judge a Book by Its Cover

Yes, a lot of the decisions I make are based on my first impressions of something. I make decisions on whether to pursue buying something or contacting a company based on their website, the colours in their branding, the feel of their store.

I judge a book by its cover, almost always.

If I know nothing about a book other than what I see infront of me, or a store I know nothing about other than how its storefront looks, or a company I have no experience with other than the experience of their website, how else can I make a decision on whether I’m interested or not?

So yes, your cover matters. The look of your website matters. The feel of your store matters. The colours and art direction of your logo matters.

But it’s not just about how something looks visually, it’s what kind of lifestyle or story do the colours, the logo, the font, or the tone of your content represent?

Call me a snob or whatever, but I make many of my purchasing decisions based on branding.

I judge a blog by its design. I judge a post by its featured image. I just a business by its website. I judge a store by its window or sign. I judge an email by its font. I judge a restaurant by the design of their menu and their environment.

The list goes on. But remember, I’m talking about brands and companies, not people. 

Does it look like something I want to be a part of? That’s what it comes down to.

Let me highlight just how important and strong branding can be by telling you how the branding of a few companies has made me want to purchase things I was never interested in buying before.

Starbucks

I never drank coffee. I never really liked coffee. I didn’t like how the caffeine made me feel. But I’ve always loved Starbucks. I love their mugs, their logo, I read their book and loved what they were trying to represent. I love their marketing. Whether it’s how their logo looks, or the feel within their stores, it’s something I just want to be a part of.

So I drink coffee, and eat their sandwiches so I can be a part of it. I feel better, I feel relaxed when I’m sitting on one of their patios, drinking a cold brew.

Come to think of it, in the beginning, what I wanted more than anything was to simply walk around with their coffee cup in my hand, sporting their iconic Starbucks logo.

Their logo brought me in. I’m not interested in Tim Hortons, Timothy’s, Dunkin’ Donuts, or anything else. I just want Starbucks, and Starbucks is my favourite coffee. Is it because of their coffee? Well yea, because I do prefer a stronger coffee, but in the end, it’s their entire branding that makes me want them more.

It’s just cooler to drink Starbucks. That’s how I feel anyway.

Indigo

There was a time when book stores were closing everywhere. Now, Amazon has opened up its first store, but Indigo has stuck around and has gone through a brilliant transformation in the mean time. Have you noticed how busy Indigo always is? Especially during special occasions.

I love walking into Indigo almost everyday, even if nothing changes for a while. It’s not a book store, it’s a lifestyle store with books complementing whatever it is you might need. The environment is welcoming with home decor planted here and there, and cool gifts, notebooks, electronics. But it’s all laid out in a very calming and cozy way.

Of all the things I purchase from Indigo, I wouldn’t say books take up the majority. But man does Indigo make me want to buy a book. I don’t know if its the way they categorize their books under various headings (and yes I literally judge a book by its cover before picking it up and reading the back), or the fact I feel like I should pick up a book to start reading at the Starbucks nestled inside the Indigo, but Indigo makes me WANT to read.

I just feel like whatever I need for whatever mood I’m in, Indigo has me covered. They market towards what you might be doing this weekend, or how you might feel this summer, or where you might be going.. and they will have something for you. They will be there for you.

Weird to talk like this about a book store right? But Indigo isn’t just a bookstore. It’s a lifestyle store that sells lots of great books.

Apple

I don’t think I’d be able to talk about branding if I didn’t mention Apple. I think this one is pretty obvious and I’ll keep this one short.

I bought my first Apple computer over 13 years ago. It was a Powerbook G4. It was expensive but it was beautiful. Everything Apple made, and makes, is beautiful and so whether or not it was as powerful or “better” than its competition, it didn’t matter. I felt more productive, I felt like I could do more buy working on a Mac and I have felt this way ever since.

Apple continues to bring things out that look so beautiful and functional by design that when you start using it, or just by holding an iPhone, iPad, or MacBook in your hand, or wearing an iWatch on your wrist, or wearing AirPods in your ear, you just feel like you can get more done. Whether it’s how visually appealing there devices are, or how clean and crisp their branding is, or how seamless they feel by touch, Apple was the way to go from the beginning and I haven’t looked back since.

Also, at that time, having something made by Apple meant you were different. You were creative. I liked that. Of course, it’s become much more common to see someone with an Apple product now, but I think using an Apple product still says something about a person, and that’s what I like about Apple.

So yes, how something looks, feels, or is interpreted matters. It may sound shallow but if someone has no prior experience of what you are offering or who you are, what they see or what they feel will create a “feeling”, you need to make sure that the texture, colour, font (yes font is SOOO important. It can really make or break a decision for me and contributes to what I think about the product or company), design, and story of your brand creates a feeling that a person wants to feel over and over again.

Here’s a list of some of the brand that do this for me and have persuaded me to enjoy their product or service strictly based on their logo, design, or look.

  • David’s Tea
  • Hudson’s Bay (the redesign)
  • Club Monaco (the redesign)
  • David’s Tea
  • Starbucks
  • Apple
  • Indigo
  • Second Cup (the redesign)
  • Mr. Porter
  • Nike
  • Tommy Bahama
  • Papyrus
  • American Express
  • Shopify
  • Incase
  • Travel and Leisure
  • Globe and Mail (Canada’s New York Times basically)
  • Medium
  • Williams Sonoma (this is Christmas to me)
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