How to Sell to Architects and Designers: Selling the Hidden Product


Some architectural products or materials have all the luck; they are naturally beautiful. In a culture that seems to value good looks above all else, beautiful products have an advantage over their utilitarian counterparts. Companies who have beautiful products can often focus solely on aesthetics in their marketing. Many plain or hidden architectural products, however, must focus on data that proves some sort of a benefit—be it superior performance, cost effectiveness, service, delivery, or ease of install to name a few.

For plain or hidden products, does beauty matter? The simple answer is yes and here’s why:

1. Architects Have a Preference for Beauty.

If you have a product that gets specified by an architect or designer, a beautiful brand becomes an important differentiator to separate your plain product from a sea of competitors. Case in point, Morton Salt. For years consumers have spent more on a generic product because of iconic packaging with an emotional story that they can imbue with their own meaning. Who is the cute little girl with the umbrella? What does the tag line When It Rains It Pours® even really mean? The brand image for Morton allows each person to answer those questions, thus transforming something generic and plain into something desired and highly personal.

2. Architects Make Decisions Based on Beauty and Then Use “Facts” to Support Their Decisions.

They use performance data to justify their specifications, not determine them, and they are not alone. My friend once earnestly told me that his Porsche 911 was a family car, perfect to tote his baby around in because of its high safety rating. It’s human nature to make a decision and then gather all of the supporting facts you can find to justify it.

3. Architects Equate Order with Beauty.

If you have a product that falls outside of the traditional beauty category—insulation or heating ducts for example—a beautiful brand can be designed using simplicity and order. Take a look at the type of consumer brands (that architects favor) who are doing this well—Muji, Aesop, Field notes, and VW—to see how simplicity and order can be beautiful.

4. A Brand Gives a Product Meaning.

A product without meaning is a commodity. A product with meaning is a brand. Brands have more value than commodities. Tell your story in a way that separates your product in an emotional way.

5. The Product Is Half the Equation in a Specification.

The other half is the brand story, identity, print and digital sales materials, trade show booths, presentations, etc. This is where your brand comes to life. Each one of these tactics presents an opportunity to use beauty to separate your product from the rest and increase your chance of specification.

6. The Odds Are Stacked in Your Favor.

Many companies with plain products refuse to believe that they can grow sales significantly by developing a beautiful brand. The more they stick to that mindset, the more they increase opportunities for the company that embraces a beautiful brand.

Beauty sells, and architectural products and materials are not the exception to the rule. The bottom line is that unattractive websites and sales materials cost just as much to produce as beautiful ones. If you want to grow sales through specification, embrace a beautiful brand.


Susan Milne

Want to grow your sales by increasing specifications by architects and designers? Click here to download our guide: THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO GETTING SPECIFIED: HOW ARCHITECTS AND INTERIOR DESIGNERS SPECIFY ARCHITECTURAL PRODUCTS AND BUILDING MATERIALS. If you have a question that hasn’t been answered or would like find out more about how Epiphany can help you get specified, give me a call: 804.377.0106.