Why What Customers See Matters

June 20, 2016

While the past dotcom decades have brought us innovation that has dramatically changed our lives at tremendous speed – it has also brought along a redefining of the workplace. Typical company lobbies were graced with high plush chairs and coffee tables covered in print trade magazines with a front desk person wearing a suit – these traditional furnishings have been replaced by ping-pong tables, massage chairs, a wall-hanging smart TV showing an Internet home page with T-shirt and flip-flop clad staffers walking in and out keypad-entries. The visual culture has definitely changed – yet it still matters. Here’s why.

All things visual resonate with a majority of the population. According to studyingstyles.com, 65% of the population are visual learners. They far outnumber the other types– auditory (hearing) and kinesthetic (feeling.) Paying attention to a visual culture means imposing standards of excellence around everything visual in your company. When I first started in business, the first person I hired was a graphics designer whose title was “creative director.” I wanted someone who understood my concept so he could then craft my brand and construct my deliverables to reflect my vision.

So while business and attitudes have gotten more informal over the years with both casual dress and recreational settings, I believe that is a big mistake in 2015. Professional visuals generate an expectation of quality. That is exactly the feeling I want to conjure up because that is exactly what my customer is going to get.

Creating a visual culture is critically important for smaller companies. A unified look establishes the fact that you are in control, understand your vision and know how to execute. Your look says you are a nimble entrepreneur who can easily compete with the big boys.

Here are some tips for creating a visual culture in your organization:

  1. Presentations. I’m sure a number of employees give presentations on behalf of your company. Create a PowerPoint template so all the presentations reflect brand standards and a common identity.
  2. Deliverables. Ditto. Create an inviolate template for your deliverables.
  3. Email. You have printed corporate stationery. Do all your emails have the same standard appearance? Create a uniform signature line that everyone has to use.
  4. The front office. This is the first visual your customers have of your organization. Does it reflect your values? Create a “corporate look” that announces it’s you, not the boring Social Security office, when your employees, customers and family walk in the door.
  5. The dress code. Do your employees wear uniforms? If not, is there a specific attire required? Determine the “look” you want for your employees and then enforce it. And don’t be afraid to explain the rules clearly to all new hires.
  6. Recruiting. People form the nucleus of every successful organization. You need great people to create great products. Creating a visual culture helps you attract the best and brightest.
  7. Reading. Reading is a visual skill that’s crucial to racing ahead in a world that moves at Mach speed. Today’s video culture is chipping away at the importance of reading. Not at your company! Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook co-founder, started a book club this January. Sounds like a good idea for your company, too.

In an overwhelmingly visual culture like ours, maintaining a professional, uniform appearance for your brand is a sure way not only to stand out – but to stand head and shoulders above the rest. By ensuring that everything from your team’s email signatures to the décor in your front office reflects your dedication to quality, you’ll be letting your customers know how much you value them – and they, in turn, will value you.