You never get a second chance to make a great first impression, and good interior design delivers a powerful visual statement that stimulates trust by capturing the interest of prospective clients.

Designers can alter a client’s perception of an organization, and therefore the reality of a working relationship by employing good design practices and visual communication cues. Good perception has the ability to inspire confidence and trust from clients and customers, and can affect other core values in ways that elevate the brand experience.

In this post, we’ll discuss how design can transform the way clients perceive your of.

Changing Consumer Perceptions

Changing the environment to reflect a desirable result will affect the perception of that space. Key to developing a new perception of reality, therefore, is how the office is perceived. This also means we can effectively change consumer or client perception with good design.

Surterra is an American therapeutic cannabis company that sells medical marijuana products for relief from a variety of illnesses. Toronto design firm, figure3, were tasked with interpreting the assumptions of baby-boomer consumers and their caregivers to address their subconscious perceptions of cannabis. Using a generative design process and cognitive science to nurture feelings of care and compassion, a design emerged that reduced the negative perception of marijuana and its previous relationships with illicit drug activity.

Figure3’s research strategy lead, Tyler Gilchrist, says that the research revealed consumers wanted their problems and questions dealt with by someone close to them, through compassionate means. They ditched pre-conceived notions of sterile cosmetic or pharmaceutical stores and investigated how to integrate a familial-based space centered around meal production, nature, and connection. Natural colours and a kitchen-island style sales counter helped the brand to begin changing consumer perceptions of marijuana by triggering positive associations of home and ease.

Part of this shift in client perception was changing the traditional dispensary environment that can cause negative frames of mind for nervous buyers, into a comfortable space that normalizes purchases and encourages education about marijuana.

Design for Trust

Good design builds trust by bridging gaps. Having a favourable perception of interior design work is dependent on the client connecting with the space and finding similarities to values that make them feel confident and well taken care of. Designing a business space optimized to inspire trust was how Airbnb proved that good design can get people to place trust in those they have never met by sharing information and finding similarities between clients.

Airbnb needed to change people’s perception of opening their homes to complete strangers. During a TED conference in Vancouver, Airbnb co-founder Joe Gebbia told attendees that Airbnb is dependent on building trust between people who had never met; a tall order for a first impression. The organization was able to manufacture a positive consumer perception of reality through good digital design that leverages reputation.

Gebbia’s research revealed that people put more trust in those who are similar to them – in those who share geographic locations, age, have kids, etc. And while research also showed that people tend to distrust those who are unlike them, positive recommendations from other people can bust through those uncertainties. Airbnb builds trust between complete strangers by using user-reviews in their design to overcome previous biases.

“We bet that design could help overcome stranger-danger bias,” Gebbia told Vancouver TEDsters. The result is a digital business space that has inspired over 785,000 in 191 countries to trust each other through positive consumer-based design.

Good design contributes to meaningful relationships based on trust and interest, but many organizations fail to make that connection with their prospective clients during the coveted first impression.

When designing a new working environment, ask yourself how does your current office speak to your clients, and what values does your space display? Do those values sync with the values of your clients? Bridging that gap with good design is step one in tailoring your clients experience to perceive your business as capable of inspiring trust and sharing meaningful similarities.