Do you judge a book by its cover?

This isn’t a metaphorical question (yet). Did you ever choose a book because the cover ‘spoke’ to you?

I confess, I’m guilty of forming an impression of a book based on its cover. This is even if I know the author and like their past work. I have a book club buddy that also appraises the worthiness of a book purely based on the cover design as an indicator of whether the content will be to taste. In our book club we still read the book even if we don’t like the cover. However, afterwards we discuss if our impression was right all along.

Judging a book’s cover art is pretty natural response especially when don’t know anything about the author or have no recommendation. In a store, the cover art needs to entice you to pick up the book, look at the back cover blurb, inside sleeve or table of contents. Online, the cover design and typography act to draw you in to look at the reviews, any recommendations from other known authors or the table of contents.

Publishers have long known the value of the cover design to communicate to their prospective audience. The book Penguin by Design: A Cover Story 1935-2005 byPhil Baines is a perfect case in point and it’s not the only book out there on book cover design. This specific cover is by London based designer David Pearson and more examples of his book covers are found at his website.

Visual perception matters

The point here is really one of visual perception and why it’s important to understand its significance and influence on our choices. Perception refers to interpretation of what we take in through our senses. The way we perceive our environment makes us different from each other.

The way people perceive visual images was first studied by German psychologist Max Wertheimer (1880 – 1943) and gave rise to Gestalt psychology. Gestalt psychology led to Gestalt theories of visual perception which are the basis of any successful design when applied. These Gestalt principles have given designers the understanding of how our eyes scan and perceive images so they can produce designs that communicate well.

The take out

Perception is reality.

Can you apply the book cover design as a metaphor for the brand identity of your business?

Value the power of your brand identity and don’t sell short how it’s expressed through your collateral and environment. Invest in getting it right to stand out and effectively communicate what you need to convey to your target audience.

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