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Why You Need To Nail Your Brand’s First Impression

You have seconds, maybe less, for someone to form an opinion on a first impression. It’s been documented that some take as little as 1/10 of a second. It all comes down to things like visuals, a facial expression, and even how you answer a phone.  Crazy right?

The question is, how do you control snap judgement? These days, your first impression needs to grab people by the subconscious and want more, faster than you can click your fingers. So, let’s get into the nitty-gritty dive of how the brain works, but more importantly, how you can tap into it to control the narrative.

Your Brain is Lazy

Think of your brain as having two modes: the slow, logical thinker, and the impulsive, autopilot version. It’s the autopilot mode that grabs the giant bag of chips even though you swore off junk food, or makes you click on a random ad with a fun image. The downside? Most of the time, we’re all running on autopilot. That first impression of your logo, your website, even your social media profile image – THAT’S what makes someone decide if you’re worth their attention.

But don’t worry, there’s a way to hack this system.

Your Brain LOVES a good shortcut

When we need to make a choice (what to buy, who to trust, etc.), our brain relies on mental shortcuts to avoid getting overwhelmed. Put it like this, if your brain sees a clean, minimalist website it would align associations and stereotypes – classy, modern, functional. However, if you open to a cluttered mess showcasing clashing colours, and unstructured formatting, it gives off amateur and untrustworthy vibes.  And this happens FAST, way before the logical part of your brain even gets a say.

The good news?  You can design these shortcuts to work in your favour.

Your Brain Lies, and Brands Know It

Remember that damn dress that broke the internet? Blue and black or white and gold? (Yeah, we’re going there). That’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to how easily our perception is fooled. Colours can change depending on what’s around them, light and reflection, shapes look bigger or smaller, and our brains fill in the blanks all the time.

Brands aren’t just selling products; they’re selling a FEELING…and they know how to persuade how you see things to create that feeling. This is the foundation of the brand, to create a DNA that will portray the intended feeling and perception.

Judged Before You Say a Word

You know when people say they “don’t judge a book by its cover”? We call BS. It’s embedded in human behaviour, as much as we shouldn’t, naturally, we do. It’s useless trying to explain how amazing you are at first glance. Your brain won’t care until it decides if you’re even WORTH its time. Harsh, but true. This is why societal narratives need to change to be more inclusive, by showcasing different diversities. It’s through these narratives that the subconscious learns to shape perception.

Now, when it comes to shaping that impression, is your visual identity sending the right message? Does your overarching aesthetic feel welcoming, and value-aligned or like a mix of opinions rehashed from Canva templates? These small design choices add up to paint the full picture in your potential customer’s mind.

And let’s be honest, sometimes that picture doesn’t exactly… hit.

The Real Reason We Take Action

It goes beyond your features and benefits (a blog for another day) – Your brain has a buy now trigger.  Yeah, knowing what you offer matters.  But when someone is mindlessly scrolling, their brain is looking for something deeper. It wants to feel seen, understood, and maybe even a little excited about the possibility. Maybe you solve a frustrating problem (hello, understanding the brain so you can control narratives *wink*). Maybe you tap into their aspirations (luxury brands do this best).  Or they see themselves in your pain point messaging (*cue Taylor* it’s me, hi, I’m the problem it’s me). The heart makes the decision, the brain justifies it later. Nail that emotional hook and you’re halfway to a sale.

To Wrap…

To wrap up, Nobel Prize-winning Psychologist, Daniel Kahneman (who just so happens to change the game in economics by applying cognitive psychology to understand judgement and choice under uncertainty) said it simply “Your first impression of a thing sets up your subsequent beliefs. If the company looks inept to you, you may assume everything else they do is inept.

Nail the first impression and you’ll be invited to the conversation.

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