As a business person, you’ve probably asked yourself: what makes a product better than others?

There are certainly lots of factors that come into play. But the more important question might be: what makes customers think that a product is better than others?

The truth is, the perceived quality of a product can be more crucial than the actual product quality. In other words, it is the perception that drives sales.

Take Honest baby wipes as an example. The original baby wipes achieved 35% more total absorption than the other options, but because they were thinner and more transparent, customers complained and rated them lower quality than conventional options. Therefore, the Honest Company reworked them slightly, and now the products are larger and thicker. Although this didn’t have a significant effect on the objective effectiveness (in this case, absorption), it changed the perceived effectiveness dramatically: the new version received more positive reviews than they ever imagined.

Another example is apple, an undoubtedly one of the most successful companies in the world, with a stock price of $728.35 million. The Forbes list ranks Apple’s brand as twice as valuable as Microsoft, the world’s second most valuable brand, and far more valuable than Google, the third. Apple also recently reported revenue of $74.6 billion and a mind-blowing $18 billion in profits for a single quarter, which is the largest quarterly earnings of any company ever.

While dedicated engineers and effective management certainly contribute significantly to Apple’s success, lots of other companies also have excellent technical and strategic teams. The magic that makes Apple shine lies in its outstanding and innovative design.

Let me explain what I mean.

This is the entrance of an apple store on the Fifth Avenue in New York City.

This was what it looked like in 2006 when the store just opened.

The new version only has three pieces of glass on each side, supported by transparent glass ribs, while the old had 18 with nontransparent dotted metal firmware. The amount of effort that Apple spends on visual appeal goes beyond an approach to modernism or simplicity.

Fun fact: if an apple store gets robbed, the broken glass will be a greater loss than all of the products in the store combined! Crazy, huh?

By the way, the concept of a glass house is not new, it’s just that…

The size of the pieces of glass, colors, reflection rate, structure, size of the material of the frame, means of connections…every detail can affect the style of the glass, and more importantly, the message that designers try to convey.

Apple’s design is centered around the mission of “creating the intersection of technology and humanity.” So what factors contribute to apple’s distinctive design?

They match traffic-rich locations with the most prominent design.

5th Avenue, New York City

Grand Central, New York City

3rd Street, Los Angeles

Opera, Paris

Sorlu Center, Istanbul

They ensure a paramount interior design.

The entrance of an apple store

Inside of a store

As you can see, Apple store’s layout leaves lots of blank space. The design reduces a sense of compression, ensuring a non-resistant visual transparency. The use of light colors such as white and silver allows the natural light to flow in, elevating the ceilings, and essentially maximizing the space.

Many museums and galleries also employ such methods of design. An Apple store is not just a display of ordinary electronic goods, but also a presentation of elegant artwork. Thanks to the unique design of the space, Apple has become the most productive retailer in the U.S, surpassing the second player by more than one time.

That is why some designers are paid up to a hundred times more than others. However, a good design should not be the reflection of the value of a designer, but a reflection of the business and its culture. The environment that surrounds us constantly affects each individual consciously or unconsciously. You might not be an architect, but you definitely have your own taste in design, and the visual outcome of a given space will alter your decisions – sometimes subconsciously.

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By: Ge Wang


Carly Li, Web.

Elgan, Mike. “Why Apple Is the Most Successful Company in History.” Computerworld. N.p., 14 Feb. 2015. Web.

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