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You Eat With Your Eyes First.

February 25, 2014

If you are a smart restaurateur or corporate restaurant marketer, you make an effort to dine at other restaurants — especially your competition. It’s then that you get a better picture of what they do better or differently than you. Often times when doing this recon, the focus is on the service, cleanliness, or food, but there is something else you should be observing…

If the title hasn’t given it away, I’ll help you out. Why did your son choose those basketball shoes you bought him over the twenty others at the shoe store? Why do people go out with the pretty-on-the-outside-but-ugly-on-the-inside date when they know better? Or better yet, why do highly acclaimed dives get overlooked before anyone even walks through the door? It’s all because of the looks and the perception you get because of them. Even Paula Deen says, “You eat with your eyes first.” This statement isn’t limited to what your food looks like; it extends to what every thing looks like. Design Management Institute (DMI) proved this same train of thought when they found that good design is good for business.

DMI’s findings are featured in an article by Fast Company. Though it seems like common sense to marketing and design professionals, we finally have proof that design-driven companies outperform non-design-driven companies. These design-driven companies included Apple, Coca-Cola, Ford, Herman Miller, IBM, Intuit, Newell Rubbermaid, Nike, Procter & Gamble, Starbucks, Starwood, Steelcase, Target, Walt Disney, and Whirlpool. Given the companies on this list, there is no way anyone can argue with the analysis. We all know that the companies are at the top of their game and even the least design savvy person can speak to the amount of creativity and excellent design they possess.

Since it’s a lot easier to take notes from and follow the direction of businesses in the same industry, I’m glad to see that Starbucks made the list. The slightly inappropriate logoed coffee giant has intentionally good design at every contact point from the simple, yet status promoting cup to the perfectly executed decor. The Starbucks I visit — and I do visit it often — has reclaimed wood tables with electric outlets designed into the frame. How sweet is that? Although it isn’t really necessary, the tables make for a better customer experience.

In the near future, look out for other restaurant brands such as Chipotle, Noodles & Company, and Pei Wei to make the list. To read Fast Company’s full article, visit

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