Image Manipulation

Impression Relevance

Teeth whitening: we care how others see us.
Leroy has strong opinions on gun control. He’s never personally held a gun, and has no particular desire to do so, but Leroy will tell anyone who cares to hear that he is categorically against gun control. You see, around where Leroy lives, folks just expect him to oppose gun control. He wouldn’t want anyone to think he felt otherwise.

Impression-relevant issues are those with regard to which your choices and actions have the potential to enhance or damage your image in the eyes of others. Impression-relevant issues are engaging because reputation is at stake.

The fashion industry is propelled by impression-relevance. Most of us dress to impress (although the nature of the impression we are trying for varies greatly). The luxury goods industry generally bases its propositions on enhancing the image of the consumer in the eyes of others. Functionally, a Chanel handbag is no different than any other. It commands a premium price because of its ability to impress friends and frighten rivals.

Brand name watches are expensive not because they are more accurate or durable, but because of their power to enhance your image in the eyes of others. For example, Rolex emphasizes the symbolism of their watches.

Rolex emphasizes the symbolic value.
Luxury goods rely on strong visual design in product and advertisements because images communicate impression-relevance directly. For example, Veuve Clicquot’s distinctive gold-yellow box communicates prestige to consumers and bystanders.

strong visual design

Bottom Line

Relevance is key to building Customer Lifetime Value because it drives recurring transactions. Propositions are relevant to your customer either because they align with personal interests, or because they carry value, impression, or outcome relevance. To engage with your customer's concern for the impression they make on others:
  • Highlight the power of your proposition to impress your friends and frighten your rivals.
  • Frighten your friends and impress your rivals -- sometimes also a good result.
  • Use strong visual design to communicate impression relevance.

I look good if this helps you look good. We'll all be impressed if you leave a comment below. Please engage.

This post is part of a series on Design for Customer Engagement.

If your interests extend to theory and philosophy, please check out my other blog.


  1. Perhaps some brands actually do perform better than unbranded, or other brands.
    Perhaps part of the 'uplift' is based on real cost. Real leather is more expensive than fake for example.
    But in essense yes large proportions of pricing is driven by brand impression.


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