In Buyology: Truth and Lies About Why We Buy, author Martin Lindstrom recounts the tale of how he convinced an Eastern European bank CEO to paint his entire business pink: cars, uniforms, walls, ties and all. Six months after the makeover, the CEO complained that everyone hated the hue. Lindstrom advised patience. Three months after that, the CEO reported that customers associated his institution with their childhood piggy banks, and the bank’s marketing costs had been cut in half.
Everyone knows appearances matter, but not everyone knows what matters in appearances. After all, a holographic business card and neon sign does not a professional business make.
Clean Up the Curb
Legend has it that 70 percent of first-time purchases are made from the curb, and a 2011 Morpace Omnibus study reported that 30 percent of customers feel that a business’s exterior appearance is “extremely important.” Any professional building south of the 49th parallel requires a maintained landscape or hardscape. Prune shrubs and bushes. Use big signage. Restrict leaf piles to the backyard. Keep trees short and toss in some knock-out flowers and always use glass doors. Consider a decorative fence from Lynx Brand Fence Products (Alta) Ltd to add to the professional look of your brick and mortar location.
Renovate the Website
Could be a Brooks Brothers suit. Could be the world’s best Prezi report. Any one of these things will be instantly eclipsed by a dingy or labyrinthine website. No brick-and-mortar business exists independently of its web real estate, so modern websites must be navigable and accessible, optimized for search engine results, image-dense and clean-coded.
Make It Fun
Who says professional must equal sterile? Check out the innovations from Volkswagen’s pet initiative, “The Fun Theory,” a petri dish of genius that inspired the garbage jukebox, the keyboard stairway, and the world’s deepest trash bin. Through sponsoring contests designed to make mundane tasks more enjoyable, Volkswagen has harvested brand equity for its creativity.
Nothing screams professionalism like LCD screens and touchpads. Investing in new laptop computers, phone systems and display screens can boost productivity and improve appearance as well. The quality of a businessperson’s cell phone is just as critical as the quality of his or her shoes. Consider Apple, where every Apple store is staffed by hip technicians sporting the latest haircuts and the thinnest iPads. And with annual revenue of $171 billion, who is to argue with Apple?
Yet the most important appearance upgrade is not found on a brick façade, or a sign, or a business letterhead. It is the smile on the face of all employees, because nothing says success like the smile of someone who has nothing to gain.