Fascinating. I don’t think of myself as influenced by design, but then I judge vendors instinctively by their website. And I realize that within the group of people I deal with, having an "old fashioned" or "clunky" website is a serious indictment.
I hadn’t thought about how much I look first at Web design until I read Design is the New Advertising, posted this morning in Marketing Profs Daily Fix by Tangerine Toad.
It set me to thinking though about how much design matters. I recently did a post on Dell’s agency search where I noted that The Real Digital Revolution had made advertising somewhat secondary to actual product performance and design, both of which can easily be researched on the interweb. I heard back from a VP at Dell who was very excited to tell me (and my readers) all about the hot new product designer they’d just hired. And I remember thinking "Oh, okay. He gets it."
At a time when so many products have become mere commodities and when advertising doesn’t have the effect it once did, design is the best way to differentiate yourself from the pack. And, hipster t-shirts notwithstanding, people will pay more for good design, because good design has a halo effect and makes the product seem more valuable.
Good design isn’t limited to products, either. Stores can have good design (Starbucks, Whole Foods) and so can airlines (Virgin, Jet Blue). The message of good design is that "we’re thinking about you, our customer. We’re designing a product that you’ll feel good about." It’s how companies can differentiate themselves these days and it’s more valuable than any kind of advertising or 2.0 trick out there.
It’s interesting to me that I realize that I’m not analyzing everybody’s design all the time, at least not consciously, but I am reacting to it. And when I start to think about it, signage, and packaging have a lot more to do with what I choose than what the advertising message was, when I got the message, if I did, which I think I rarely did. As Tangerine Toad says by way of conclusion:
Simply put, design is the new advertising.