Judging A Book by Its Cover: The Reality of Product Branding

By: Amy Rosner

Appearances can be deceiving, and they very rarely tell the whole story about a person. Often, we form inaccurate conclusions about an individual based off of superficial characteristics. Consequently, it is imperative to dig below the surface and look beyond the aesthetic. Judging a book by its cover can have real world consequences in our everyday encounters: it is something we all should aim to avoid. But this does not always translate to the realm of product branding: aesthetic is critical to survive in the fashion industry.

Brands thrive off of having a unique and individualized aesthetic, because that is how they attract consumers, and in turn, create profit. In order for brands to set themselves apart from competitors, they need to create a visual presentation that is eye-catching and in alignment with the values of the consumer. Individuals are more attracted to products that are pleasing to to the human eye, which incentivizes an individual to purchase a new bag or pair of shoes.

Whether we like to admit it or not, judging a book by its cover is an innate quality, one that is unavoidably weaved into the fashion industry. When we walk into a department store and see Nike’s new line, we automatically make assumptions about the line and the brand in general. We associate the Nike symbol with ideas of speed, determination, and excellence: these traits are derived from marketing strategies employed by the company. A logo carries symbolic significance: it is revealing of the a brand’s basic principles. Furthermore, it is impossible to avoid forming conclusions based off of the visual- it is human nature to construct a narrative based off of aesthetic representation.

As members of the branding team, we are very in tune to the power of branding. Rachel Roth, the original creative director of the Michigan Fashion Media Summit, captured it perfectly when she said, “How were we going to tackle our blank canvas [of starting the Michigan Fashion Media Summit]? How are we going to sell the idea of an intangible event so much that we’d sell out an entire 500 person plus event? We self-limited our brushes and protected our paint palette. And so we exploited our blank canvas. Each artistic decision and marketing campaign was made with intricate attention to detail. But in the process, we made one recognizable, respectable, and affinitive brand that has grown to become the Michigan Fashion Media Summit” (Roth). We knew students scrolling through our Instagram page, or reading the latest article on the stitch, would judge our book by its cover. So, we created a brand with a revolutionary, unmistakable cover.

Brian Zhao