You're Reading:Does Product Appearance Matter? A Story, Research, and More

Does Product Appearance Matter? A Story, Research, and More

by Tasos


Jul 28, 2019


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Before we get into the branding and marketing discussion, let me share a quick story with you.

It all started this very “hot” Saturday afternoon, just a few days ago. We were enjoying a family activity in the biggest shopping center in Thessaloniki. We just finished launch and my kids were screaming for an ice-cream.

What can you do in this case? You can’t say NO, absolutely!

My youngest son got a chocolate popsicle and my older son ordered soft cone vanilla.

The latter is the ice cream that is softer and less dense than regular ice creams served by special machines that hold pre-mixed product at a very low, but non-frozen temperature.

I remember my grandma buying me soft ice cream when I was a kid. I just love it.

Product Appearance in Branding and Marketing

The kids grabbed the ice-creams and we stepped out of the building to the outdoor area. We found a nice wooden bench under a tree and I made a phone call.

When I hang up the phone, I watched my big son having a very hard time eating his ice cream. He was struggling as the softer ice cream was melting quickly.

Everything around him was a mess and we simply could not stop smiling and laughing.

When he returned from the bathroom, we had a little chat about it.

I said “it’s not his fault. The ice cream was going to melt anyway because the weather is too hot today.” Also, I said “they put so much ice cream on top that you have to eat it very quickly”

My young son asked “Why do they do this? Don’t they know it’s too hot outside?”

I replied “They know, but they sell ice cream inside the building, which is air-conditioned”

My young son asked again “So why don’t just they put less ice cream?”

“They do that because it’s a matter of branding and marketing”, I replied.

What? the kids asked together. Is that related to your work?

“Exactly. And here’s what I mean”


If someone was interested in buying soft ice cream from this store and he was watching you or someone else buying, and the store employee was serving small ice cream portions, that would probably make the potential buyer look away. He would probably think that this store is too expensive, they serve too little ice cream, and he would move on to the next store in the building.

That is why they put so much ice cream on top, to satisfy your eyes and senses. And when the eyes feel great, your mind does too. It’s beautiful, it’s big, looks delicious, it’s worth every penny.

That’s exactly what we do, we make products look better so that people would buy them without spending too much time thinking.


Companies spend millions of dollars in product design and development. Why?

The Wiley Online Library underlines

Product design has been recognized as an opportunity for differential advantage in the market place. The appearance of a product influences consumer product choice in several ways.

Based on a literature review, six different roles of product appearance for consumers are identified: (1) communication of aesthetic, (2) symbolic, (3) functional, and (4) ergonomic information; (5) attention-drawing; and (6) categorization. A product’s appearance can have aesthetic and symbolic value for consumers, can communicate functional characteristics and give a quality impression (functional value), and can communicate the ease of use (ergonomic value). In addition, it can draw attention and can influence the ease of categorization of the product.

The International Journal of Design discusses “How Consumers Perceive Product Appearance”

Companies that are able to communicate a certain meaning (e.g. prestige) through the appearance of a product design can create a competitive advantage in the market and increase the product’s chance of success (Lewalski, 1988; Bloch, 1995; Hertenstein, Platt, & Veryzer, 2005; Yamamoto & Lambert, 1994; Chang & Wu, 2007). 

According to Krippendorf (1989), the products of design should be understandable or meaningful to someone. The meaning the appearance of a product communicates helps consumers to assess the product on functional, aesthetic, symbolic or ergonomic motives.

A great deal of research has identified product appearance attributes that can be derived from product appearance, as well as from packaging, typefaces or logos (Ellis, 1993; Orth & Malkewitz, 2008, Henderson, Giese, & Cote, 2004). Appearance attributes that are mentioned in the literature include harmony, unity, symmetry (Ellis, 1993); proportion, typicality (Veryzer & Hutchinson, 1998); massiveness, naturalness and delicateness (Orth & Malkewitz, 2008).

Melike Demirbag Kaplan explores the topic “Product Appearance and Brand Knowledge”

The last two decades has witnessed an ever-growing increase of interest in branding and brand management both by the academia and the practitioners. A plethora of studies in this field has emerged and enriched our understanding of branding, mostly owing to the awareness that brands are the most strategic and valuable assets of the companies. Moreover, recent years have also witnessed an increasing attention paid to product design, which is particularly due to the fact that design is now considered to be a powerful differentiator and hence a strategic tool to achieve and sustain competitive advantages

Varshita Muddana discusses the topic “The Importance of Your Product’s Design and Appearance”

First impressions are everything. People are more likely to buy if their first impression (the packaging) is positive. Packaging is also essential nowadays due to the growing prominence of online purchasing.

Efficiency is also essential because consumers appreciate the importance of reducing the use of materials toward lowering the carbon footprint.

Effective branding stimulates emotion, which affects consumer behavior and choices. The most significant factor that affects emotion is color. Each color is associated with specific feelings, and research has shown that it accounts for 90% of quick judgments about the product. This means that color has a significant impact on people’s buying behaviors. The choice of color for a brand can affect its recognition by up to 80%. Many consumers say that they decide not to revisit a website if it has an unappealing aesthetic.

A critical factor in clinching sales online is the appearance of the product in the photo images This also comes into play with the design of the website. If the plan is poorly executed, the customer might have a frustrating time understanding the procedure to check out and purchase the items. Delivering a timely brand message can also reel a customer back in when they’re on the verge of exiting the shopping cart.

Aesthetics entails all the visual aspects of a product including font, text size, color, and images. However, there is more to branding than those physical attributes. The voice of the brand speaks through customer service style, blog posts, marketing emails, and social media posts. Branding is a multi-faceted experience that immerses customers in many ways. Companies need to look appealing, but they also need to convey professionalism, trustworthiness, and values.

Reasons to Take Product Appearance Seriously

  • A differential advantage in the marketplace
  • A strategic tool to achieve and sustain competitive advantages
  • Aesthetic and symbolic value for consumers
  • Communicates functional characteristics
  • Gives a quality impression
  • Communicates the ease of use
  • It can draw attention
  • It can influence the ease of categorization of the product
  • Communicates a certain meaning
  • First impressions are everything
  • Effective branding stimulates emotion, which affects consumer behavior and choices

Online Branding and Marketing

  • Consumers decide not to revisit a website if it has an unappealing aesthetic
  • Clean web design helps consumers understand the products and services, thus increasing chances of buying
  • Fonts, text size, color, and images are all visual aspects of a website (the product)
  • The voice of the brand speaks through customer service style, blog posts, marketing emails, social media posts, videos, ads

Marketing and Copywriting

Ads and marketing messages are everywhere. We watch them as we walk, eat, listen to the radio, watching TV, videos on You-Tube and other channels online, on the streets, on clothing, on cars, on websites, etc.

We are bombarded with these messages all day long.

The human mind collects data from a wide range of brands and products daily.

But what all these ads have in common?

They all try to draw attention in a multi-faceted environment.

Marketing and advertising take product appearance to the next level. Marketing messages are designed to create awareness, brand loyalty, trustworthiness, professionalism, and most importantly to help consumers evaluate products and services and eventually help them take action.


Because we live in an era of information overload. Ads are everywhere and brands are competing in various environments. The most compelling ads and clear messages are those winning the majority of consumers.

Messages that people understand fast without doubts stand out from the crowd.

This is where copywriting comes into play. It’s responsible for triggering consumers’ emotions and helping them visualize the beautiful outcome that comes after the purchase of a product or service. It’s also responsible for reminding consumers that their life is not so great yet, and all they need is this new product that will change everything for them.

All in all, it’s about creating an appealing product, packaging, and effective ads and marketing messages to help spread the word and make people buy.

Then, it’s all about customer service, after-sales service, retaining and delighting existing customers, and expanding.

But that is a subject for another discussion.

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Final Thoughts

So what do you think?

Should brands take product appearance seriously or not?

Can a brand survive by just developing awesome and great-looking products?

Should brands spend money in marketing, advertising, and copywriting?

Do you need help with your branding and marketing campaigns?

Schedule a free video-call interview to help us understand where you are at your business right now, your needs and goals, and we will give you a detailed analysis of how we work. Then, we’ll create the first campaign for you for free to prove we can get you results.

That’s it, another article has finished, here on Web Market Support. I’m waiting for your comments and thoughts. Till next time.

Tasos Perte Tzortzis

Tasos Perte Tzortzis

Business Organisation & Administration, Marketing Consultant, Creator of the "7 Ideals" Methodology

Although doing traditional business offline since 1992, I fell in love with online marketing in late 2014 and have helped hundreds of brands sell more of their products and services. Founder of WebMarketSupport, Muvimag, Summer Dream.

Reading, arts, science, chess, coffee, tea, swimming, Audi, and family comes first.



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