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How Good Design Sells

How Good Design Sells

Has something in a shop ever caught your eye and made you think: “That looks really nice. I want that!”? That’s good design at work.

Style may never triumph over substance but style gives substance a chance to shine. To stand out in an increasingly crowded market, your products need to be well designed. 


Good design gets you in


Let’s think about the way we shop for clothes. We start by identifying what we need - say, a new pair of jeans. Then, we think about where we can buy a pair that looks good. Only then does the price of the jeans come into play. In fact, if something looks particularly good but busts our budget, we might even be persuaded to toss the money matter aside. Good jeans are so hard to come by.

Well-designed products capture attention and puts you at the forefront of people’s considerations. That leads to real gains. In 2014, Coca-Cola introduced the “Share a Coke” campaign which featured personalised Coke bottles and cans. In addition to the top 250 most popular teen and millennial names in the US, it also included popular jargon like “Bestie” and “Wingman”. The novel design was irresistible. Total sales went up by 2.5% and soft drink volume increased 0.4%. Coca-Cola was able to arrest the downward trend in sales brought on by increased popularity of bottled water and low-calorie sports drinks.


Design gets you in, or back in, in the case of Coke.

Good design builds trust


When the now infamous home-sharing app, Airbnb, was first looking to get off the ground, they had one major problem: How do you get people to trust strangers to go in and out of their homes?


New York was one of the places in which Airbnb found hard to gain traction. In an attempt to figure out why, the founders stayed in over 20 listings in the city and soon discovered the problem. The photos of the homes listed were bad. People just couldn’t trust that they would have a good experience because it didn’t look good.


So, Airbnb rented a US$5,000 camera and went to as many New York-based listings as possible and took professional photos. Business in the area improved two to three times.


If you look good, you look trustworthy.


Good design converts customers


But what truly separates what’s bought and what’s not is whether the customer believes that the product will deliver value. And design can affect that perception.


Take for example sports brands like Nike and Adidas, both of which are doing really well in the area of football boots. Why? Every small design feature of their footwear, down to even the crevices on the side, promises better control, better shooting and better dribbling. These minute details in design go a long way to sway customers in their decision-making process.


Design can persuade people to buy.


Former IBM chairman, Thomas Watson Jr, once said: “Great design will not sell an inferior product, but it will enable a great product to reach its maximum potential.”. You will do well to make your product look as good as it is.


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