Substance is just as important as style

The other day, I bought a coffee and piece of cake from a local cafe. The assistant carefully placed a serviette on the plate and then topped it with the cake and fork. What is the point of this? The serviette became greasy and crumb-laden which is obviously not what you want when wiping your mouth and hands.

coffee, cake and serviette

On another occasion, I ordered a scone with butter and jam from a different cafe. It looked delicious and tempting. However, when I went to spread the butter it was so hard that I ended up breaking the scone into pieces.

I once worked in a beautiful premises in a rural location. The company employed an interior designer whose job it was to make the premises look great for our clients. She did this well and we received many compliments from clients and visitors alike. However, the sofas in one of the main meeting rooms were so low that it made it embarrassing to sit in them if you were wearing a skirt. Not to mention that many of our clients who were more advanced in years found it difficult to get up from them without a struggle.

Don’t get hooked on style over substance

These every day experiences are good examples of what is known as style over substance. This is when we become less concerned about the functionality of a product or service and more worried about appearances. Marketers can be as guilty as anyone else (if not more so) of falling into this trap.

How many times have you landed on a website that looks really impressive but you’ve not been able to find what you’re looking for. Or perhaps the site has taken so long to load that you’ve given up on it. No matter how fancy the design, if it doesn’t serve its purpose it will fail to impress. Ultimately, this will mean that you will lose business as customers or prospects move to competitors who offer them what they want.

Style does matter

Of course, style does matter. How a product looks or a service is marketed will be vital to its appeal to target audiences. But the functionality – or substance – of the product or service and its ability to offer tangible benefits to your clients will be far more important.

The best outcome will be to blend both style and substance. Appearances do matter, but it’s so important that the substance is there too.

As you can tell, this is a bit of a bug-bear of mine. I really hate it when I buy something that looks great but fails to do the job or doesn’t live up to expectatons.

I have countless examples I could bore you with(!), but I’d love it if you would share yours below.

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