Do looks matter?

Personally, I think the answer to the question is yes. But I’m approaching it from a slightly different angle. There is the obvious angle: should attractiveness matter? And, at the risk of sounding a little shallow, I think the answer is definitely yes, but, more on that later

The “looks” that I wanted to cover first of all is of a slightly different variety. I’m talking about when you first meet someone. What’s the one thing that really puts you off a person? Yes, I suppose it could be they come across as smug or arrogant; you may not like the way they dress; you may not like what they have to say. The list is pretty endless and, of course, it can be any of these things.  Add in the fact that different cultures naturally behave differently; for example, nose blowing and spitting are considered both repulsive and acceptable depending on which continent you reside in. Equally, showing the soles of your shoes is considered massively offensive in certain parts of the world whilst post-dinner burping is acceptable (even complimentary) to some and not to others.

But, the one thing that is universally accepted & gauged is how someone looks at you – specifically how they maintain eye contact. Good & measured eye contact conveys that the person is honesttrustworthy, is more likely to be paying attention to you and therefore it’s also pretty likely that what they say to you is going to be relevant. Minimal or the absence of eye contact suggests uncertainty at best and at worst that the person is evasive, “shifty”, has something to hidecannot be trusted.  The latter also sows seeds of confusion – you can’t help wondering if they are really listening to you at all, or are they just waiting for you to finish so that they can say their piece? In the case of the latter, I heard a “conversation” between a couple on the train a few evenings ago (I’m not in the habit of eavesdropping but having stared at screens of various sizes all day long, I thought I’d give more screentime a rest and just sit and do nothing). It would have been more accurate to describe their conversation as two separate & irrelevant monologues – he was more interested in telling her about his stressful day and she was more concerned about her friend’s husband’s alleged infidelity!

Over the years I’ve found that these adjectives perfectly describe how we emotionally respond to brands. The looks are important, but there’s an equally important shift in dynamic.  In this case, it’s about how I look at the brand. If the message & the feel of the brand is clear, simple, straightforward & memorable then it’s pretty likely that I will give it a second look, that I will want to explore it a little further, that I will end up trusting it. It’ll have my attention.  But it the message is confusing, unconsidered, half-baked, or just pointless then I’m not going any further: you won’t get a second look.

And speaking of irrelevance, I can’t help noticing that there’s been an ever expanding degree of “bandwagonism” with the use of social media over the past couple of years. It does seem to me that the general feeling for a lot of brands is “we need to be on Youtube/Facebook/LinkedIn/Pinterest/Vimeo/Twitter (and any others that will soon pop up)..” without actually asking the question “Why should we be on Youtube/Facebook…..?”. Now, I’m not an “anti-social media” advocate. Far from it. But I do think that brands need to consider why they are on these channels. If it’s giving their consumers some genuine benefit such as offers or ideas then I’m all for it. But if it’s to tweet that “the team at Brilliant Butter are loving the weather today, what are your plans for the evening?” then that’s surely a big fat slice of pointlessness that’s not really doing much for the brand, doing even less for the consumer and is clearly a wasted opportunity. You may get some likes but does it really mean anything? Personally, I’ve always thought that it means more to meaningfully connect with 1000 than fall on 1M deaf ears. Another way to look at it would be this: if you – as a brand owner – could get a consumer in a room, would you tell them about enjoying the weather and ask about their evening plans?
If the answer is no then why do it online?

So, to spin the metaphor back round. I would like a brand to look me in the eye, give me something useful, not use something because it’s there but because they’ve genuinely considered it.

Oh, back to the original point about attractive physical looks? The answer as you may recall was a yes. As I said earlier it may come across as shallow but the reality is that physical looks do matter. I can’t claim the next point as mine but the general gist is this: 2 products, both do the same thing, both priced identically, one is beautiful and other is not. Which one do you choose?