Stores are like books. We judge both by their covers. And they either entice us to step inside or just... keep... walkin'.
Storefronts are the Shazam of shopping. They have about three seconds to say HERE I AM, THIS IS WHO I AM, and YOU NEED TO MEET ME.
That’s the time an average person takes to walk by a shop. Drivers get about one second to form their opinions.
A good storefront quickly tells us what we need to know about a brand. And this is true even if a shop suggests it's not keen to let us know too much until we walk in. These are the shops that display a bit of contemplative art or an amusing vignette at the window to provide just a hint of what’s inside.
To do nothing is a decision.
The shop window can be many things except nothing. To offer nothing is a decision, conscious or otherwise. And it's noticed by the shopper, conscious or otherwise.
Book covers are tiny little storefronts.
A book cover conveys the essence of what we’ll find inside. It sets the tone. It establishes expectations. And it should leave us wanting more. Like storefronts, they need to stand out, stop us, and provide an introduction. They need to appeal to our emotions and make a connection. They need to prompt a question and a curiosity as to how that question will be answered inside.
It’s a challenge to make a two-dimensional, silent swatch of color and shape speak. Conveying the essence of a book is a bit like trying to visualize the scent of a perfume. But in today's visual world, a good book cover is more important than ever. Digital covers have the same 1-3 seconds to get someone’s attention. And each tiny thumbnail of a cover sits on a screen alongside a bunch of other tiny thumbnail covers all vying for the same 1-3 seconds.
One can view that as just not fair. Or one can view that as opportunity.