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June 19th, 2020
Presentation is everything. Or so they say. It is fundamentally wrong to concentrate only on appearances, and this is exactly what presentation is: optics. The confusion lies in the unseen, behind the presentation, where the real substance is, or isn’t.
First, something is far less likely to sell if the optics are bad. We are a species that is vision primary. For better or worse. And for all your internet sales gurus and side hustle maniacs, this translates into the idea that you can make a living just by presenting a good looking image. Some even make the deception work: selling snake-oil is as old as the invention of lying.
The puny kernel of truth that can be extracted from such nonsense is that style, design, aesthetics, and the overall optics of a thing makes it more likely that we will have some engagement, and engagement is required if anyone is going to discover the real substance of what’s on offer. The hollow platitude presentation is everything, would make better sense with more substance in the sentence: presentation makes everything more approachable. If the final result of all our work isn’t approachable, then it may have all been for nothing, making presentation everything.
We may spend 99% of our time and effort getting something to work, and be ready to call it a day, ship it, and wipe our hands of the project. But all that work might be for nothing if no none engages with it. And this is why it can be so useful to put a bow on it.
This phrase is actually used in the opposite manner. We talk about ‘putting a bow on it’ when it’s clearly done and time to move on. It’s the equivalent of “you’re done, let’s go.” Strangely, the phrase doesn’t even stand by it’s own directive. Put a bow on it, literally means: take that last extra step to make it look pretty, presentable, and clearly a gift.
There is something somewhat anticlimactic about an unwrapped gift, as though it lacks the signal of giving. It’s the complement to the worse twin of a beautifully wrapped box that is empty, though while the first still fulfills it’s mission, this latter twin truly is a deception: a prank at the very best, a straight up con at the very worst.
We aren’t actually done when it’s time to put a bow on it. Instead, the time has come to switch gears, and attempt to communicate genuinely just how much effort and love has gone into the substance of the product or gift.
Think about what it’s like to receive a beautifully wrapped gift, something that looks so good you don’t even want to unwrap it. As creators we must seek to create a situation where the gift we give is a cake that’s eaten and kept forever: we should aim to produce something beautiful, that lives up to its own aesthetics.