Apple’s London store. Image: CNET
By Jon Michail
Good design is really all about good communication. It is about different elements working in harmony to tell a story. This is as true in business as it is in life.
Humans are visual beings, and we are drawn to things that are aesthetically pleasing. If you look back through the history and development of art you see that this has always been the case. What we find appealing may change, or may vary from culture to culture, but the fundamental fact remains that we are, and always have been drawn to things we deem beautiful.
There is even a whole branch of philosophy devoted to Aesthetics, and the very word derives from the Greek “aisthetikos”, meaning “of sense perception”. Along with Ethics, aesthetics is part of axiology (the study of values and value judgements).
“Humans are visual beings, and we are drawn to things that are aesthetically pleasing.”
Sadly, even with all these centuries of study behind us, we are still slow to apply the principles of aesthetics to our daily lives. We decorate our homes, but developers care far more for profit than aesthetics when they design those homes.
Research shows that inviting, beautiful, spaces create happiness and help communities to thrive, but public spaces are often an afterthought rather than the vital and refreshing centres of community that they should be.
What this means for your business brand
Everything you present to the world communicates. The way you dress sends a message. The space around you sends a message. All of your branding sends a message. Your online presence should communicate that same message.
The visual aspect of your business should be strong and recognisable, but it should also look good, because you want it to be welcoming.
“Everything you present to the world communicates.”
Have you ever walked into an Apple store? With Apple, everything is about aesthetics. Everything! It’s all geared towards design tied to user experience. Their products, their online presence, their advertising, and their physical stores, all sell the same message.
Through impeccable presentation, Apple very clearly communicates who they are, and who you can be, if you become one of their devoted followers. Or, maybe it would be better to say that they sell the message that Apple knows who you already are – cool, savvy, design-conscious – and because Apple is all of these things too, then naturally their products should be a part of your life.
Putting design first
Designers, visual merchandisers, and image consultants don’t just exist to “pretty things up.” The visual presentation of a product or business should always be a reflection of what that product or business stands for, of its core and key messages. Otherwise, that visual presentation is meaningless. The mission must always be to create an outer image that is a true and congruent reflection of the inner image of a brand – be that a business, product, or person.
You may not think this applies to you if your business is mainly centred around a warehouse or factory that is hardly a warm and cosy, inviting space. But it is important that wherever you interact with your clients (whether in a physical space like an office, or through your online presence, or even the café down the road) this should still be an inviting space. It should be a space with careful presentation that looks and feels good.
“The mission must always be to create an outer image that is a true and congruent reflection of the inner image of a brand.”
Taking time and care with the spaces where you interact with your customers, should reflect how you handle your business as a whole. It should be a reminder that you care about your customers and the experience they have with your business.
So when you are thinking about the functionality of your workspace, your online presence, or your marketing, consider aesthetics as a key part of that functionality. I’m sure you’ll be glad that you did.
What are your thoughts? How have aesthetic elements impacted on your business – positively or negatively?
Jon Michail and his team at Image Group International partner with their clients to achieve breakthrough results with contrarian and disruptive ways to grow and monetise their personal and business brands. A veteran, multi-award-winning coach and author with a Who’s Who clientele, Jon is the CEO and Founder of Image Group International, an Australian-based corporate and personal brand image advisory and coaching organisation that conducts transformational seminars, workshops and one-on-one coaching in over four continents. He is recognised as Australasia’s No. 1 Image Coach.