You Never Get A Second Chance To Make A First Impression

Studies have shown that you get mere seconds to create a first impression with your customers. In fact, some of the most recent consumer behaviour studies suggest that you don’t even get one full second to create your first impression, you get a measly half a second – if that!

If that is the case, what first impression are you giving your customers about your business?

Have you ever thought about what your doorway, your entryway, your reception area say about your business?

Is your brand displayed prominently? And if so, how?

Are you creating the impression that you are a creative business? A homely, friendly business? A serious, straight-laced business? Does your reception area tell people that you are luxurious? A place where they can relax and unwind? A casual place with no heirs and graces?

Whatever impression your reception area is creating, it lasts! That is the impression that your customers will have about you business for a long, long time.

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A case study: Lidl

One of the most prominent examples in Europe of lasting impressions is the case of Lidl.

Lidl, being a German multinational chain of low-cost, budget supermarkets have just recently invested 20Million Pounds into an advertising campaign to reposition themselves in the European supermarket space.

‘Why?’ you might well ask, when the chain appears to be doing so well and is occupying such a large space in the supermarket scape in Europe?

Well, the truth is that Lidl executives know that there is a lasting impression that exists amongst their customers and potential new customers. Lidl pitched themselves as the low-cost, budget, ‘Ryanair’ of grocery shopping when they expanded across Europe and they did it so well, that the impression has followed them around and perhaps, has clouded the view that they also offer high quality in their product ranges.

There was, of course, nothing wrong with their strategy and it allowed them to claim a large portion of the grocery market pie. Now, however, they want to get the message out there that they should also be known for high quality, fresh produce to rival that of any of the other major players in the space.

Let’s dissect this impression a little further to examine how Lidl created this initial and lasting impression.

Cast your mind back to the Celtic Tiger for a moment. Think about those heady days when we all felt like millionaires. We became overnight property moguls, buying up holiday homes all over Europe, ‘investing’ in second, third or fourth cars and carrying out the weekly shop at Donnybrook Fair! In those days, Lidl, was almost a dirty word. Shopping at Lidl was a somewhat shameful experience. It was for those poor sods on a budget, for crying out loud! Then the recession hit and we started to regain our grip on reality and practicality to a certain extent.

But what created this impression about Lidl in the first place? Was it us (the consumers)? Was it our own perception? Was it the dizzying promises made to us by lenders and credit agencies? Or was it the impression that Lidl themselves gave us about their positioning in the marketplace?

It was most likely a combination of all of the above, but Lidl’s positioning was crystal clear and there was no mistaking the chain for a high-end purveyor of artisan quality goods!

You see, the moment you walk into a Lidl store, you are left with the distinct impression that it is a no-frills, low cost, ‘Ryanair’ style operation. This impression was created through the design and layout of their stores and was a lasting impression. The perception of ‘cheapness’ was created long before we ever even got as far as their shelving to check out their range of quality goods.

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How was this done? Well, the next time you take a trip to Lidl, notice the distinct lack of piped back-ground music. Notice the very basic fixtures, fittings and finishes, the lack of expensive atmospheric lighting (only cheaper fluorescent overhead lighting) no expensive cabinetry or display stands. In fact, in all of their stores, you will find cheap, metal buckets placed in centre aisles, filled with ‘bargain basement’ deals. The use of bright colours including yellow (in their branding) and orange in all of their signage gave an impression of cheapness. (These colours are actually typically used to move customers through a business quickly, like in a fast-food restaurant. See more about colour psychology here)

All of these design and styling elements combined to give the consumer the impression that Lidl ws saving money on store design and passing that saving onto the customer. A perfect strategy. Except for one thing – it also left the customer with an impression of low quality or cheapness.

Lidl have had to work hard over time to counter that impression and have recently announced a 20million Pound campaign called #Lidlsurprises to help push the message that they, in fact, carry some very surprising high quality food products and some very quaffable wines!


What first impression is your business giving your customers?

Lidl may have 20million Pounds to spend on a repositioning campaign. But what if you don’t? What can you do to ensure that you are sending the right message to your customers from the get-go?

My suggestion is that you work with a design agency that has a strong understanding of brand and brand message.

McCabe Design Group have been in this business for over 25 years now and we have worked with so many businesses throughout Ireland and Europe to create the perfect first impression.

Have a look at some of our articles on colour choice and design psychology here for further pointers and feel free to browse some of our sample work in our portfolio section too.