If you take a look around, you will see that very simple and ordinary ideas and products are being sold like hot cakes – thanks to their fancy presentation. There are also products and services that are useful to you, but that you don't like to use that much, just because of how they look. And finally, we see those very rare brands that combine attractive packaging with superior engineering, reaching multi-billion dollar valuations (see unicorn).
One of the biggest mistakes you can make when starting a new venture is to underestimate your 'packaging', or worse, to ignore it.
Image is everything, thirst is nothing
If you thought those good old Sprite ads were accurate, think again.
Let's simply replace 'image' with your brand's packaging, i.e. the overall design/visual quality of all the elements your customers interact with, such as your product boxes or your ads. And let your customers' needs replace 'thirst'.
In his famous book Thinking, Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman talks about two types of minds: 'System 1' is fast, instinctive and emotional; 'System 2' is slow, deliberate and logical. Most of the decisions we make in our daily lives, especially the ones we don't want to worry too much about (such as small purchases), are the decisions of System 1.
You may be meeting your customers' needs, i.e. addressing their System 2, but at the end of the day, you cannot overrule System 1. In other words, if the initial impression you leave on your customers is mediocre, no matter how well your product or service works, it will be very difficult to win them over in the long run.
You can't ignore how the human brain works
Are you gonna drink coffee or tea this morning? Will you eat meat or fish in the evening? Wear the blue shirt or the green one? Should you download this app, or the other one?
Dozens of choices you make every day, especially if the subject is unfamiliar with the object, are related to the object's looks and what kind of associations this image causes in your subconscious.
Giant brands spend millions of dollars on marketing every year and as a result of these efforts, certain templates are created in our minds. When we see shapes (logos, typefaces, visual effects, etc.) that are close to these templates, we involuntarily associate that product with those brands and instinctively 'trust' them; this trust also removes the obstacles during the purchasing process.
Likewise, every unpleasant shopping experience we've ever had —'there is a 100% price difference between the two, let me try the cheaper, how bad can it be?'– later creates negative templates in our subconscious. The sloppy packaging, unpolished logo and cheap feel of the product in question are etched in our minds, and when we come across another new product that evokes this memory, we get skeptical or just run away.
I think we all know which group we want to belong to.
Take care of your designs, emulate the giants
Pay attention to even the smallest detail of the most insignificant material with your company logo on it. If the visual impact of your product is far behind those of your expensive competitors, better not to release it: A poor first impression will cost you much more than a new design.