Effective Design Is Invisible

Here’s a relatable story for you:

You’re on your way to the supermarket, telling yourself that you’re just going there to cross things off your shopping list and get out ASAP. You’ve got what you came for in a matter of minutes. Bread, butter, milk, eggs? Check, check, check. Time to leave.

And then, it caught your attention. You stopped right in the middle of the aisle, making it hard for other shoppers to get around you, but it didn’t matter to you. 

Something stopped you dead in your tracks. It gave you a warm fuzzy feeling, and you loved it. Before you knew it, you swooped down on it and added it to your trolley, happy to spend the money on this thing you had no initial intention of buying. 

What was it that held so much power over your decision-making process? 

The answer is effective design. Allow us to explain.

Every step of your journey to the supermarket was designed. The concept of shopping in itself was a relatively new invention that rose to prominence as the middle-class emerged. Today, we shop without giving it any second thought.

If you had known about this before, you would be able to stop yourself from such temptation, right? Inevitably a magician’s trick becomes its downfall when performed a second time.

Smart brands and their agencies know this. That is why they carefully craft their packaging to work in the shadows, hidden behind walls of campaigns and paid and organic media, and new product iterations based on consumer feedback.

In other words, effective design is invisible. It works best when you don’t even know why it works. But the same invisibility is also why businesses only realise its absence when sales are dropping or, “something just doesn’t feel right”. 

So, back to your intuitive purchase (not impulsive, we don’t like that word). What can you learn from this experience, so you can apply it to your business? Let’s use the shopping experience as an analogy:

The message lies in the presentation

Looks matter. As long as the product works as expected, most consumers will buy the one that looks the best. A well-designed logo and packaging will help you sell far more than a DIY logo made in Comic Sans (ew!). A competent agency will tell you what should go on your precious paid ads, and what shouldn’t.

Many brands make the mistake of bombarding their consumers with facts that they can’t relate to. Smart brands on the other hand, will say little, and the little they say is what prompts you to pull your wallet out.

Strong branding guarantees sales

“Branding” is a term often thrown around, but rarely understood. It’s not about having a fancy business card or a cool logo — it’s about consumer goodwill, and the warm, fuzzy gut feeling your consumers have when your brand name is mentioned.

Branding includes all aesthetic adjustments that appeal to customers in addition to your value proposition. Your current customers care because of your branding.

Positioning is everything

Positioning is the invisible force that makes your brand memorable to customers. That’s why companies like Nestle, Google, and Apple spend money on crafting jingles that become earworms, rent the biggest billboards in metropolitan cities and make sure their product is placed strategically on supermarket shelves.

They also allocate generous portions of their budget to update their communication materials to reflect current consumer trends. If you want to win the game you must occupy mental and physical spaces.

The next time you get that warm, fuzzy feeling when you look at a product, just remember that the invisible force tugging on your credit card is called “effective design”. The entire experience is planned, and you can employ the same strategy with your business. If you can’t beat them at their game, you can certainly join them.

Want to create some “good design?” Drop us a note at

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