The phrase, “Never judge a book by its cover,” never dug deep enough for me, and it always seemed to be used in poor context. Was the phrase an attempt to correct the human fallacy of ignorance, or was it an unnatural approach to get everyone to be nice to each other? Don’t get me wrong, one should always keep an open mind, and never presume to know all of someone simply from their outer presentation (things can be very different by chapter 2). But doesn’t the book’s cover summarize what’s inside? It seems many who use this phrase should re-evaluate their book cover.
Brand builders, PR firms, copywriters, designers, and other specialists make their living creating book covers for brands, organizations and celebrities, as well as the shaping of the content from behind that book cover. We know that a blog or press release’s title, for example, is the book’s cover, and the body of the piece, is its content. A job applicant’s overall initial presentation is his cover, while his resume, experience, and on-the-job results is his content. The presence and design of an office building is its cover, while the tenants, location, and costs are the content.
The Criteria of Judgement
The cover of a book — or someone’s outer presence — can cause people to think certain thoughts and commit to certain actions; image makers recognize this, and use it to make things happen for their clients. Like it or not, it’s inhuman and impractical to refrain from judgment based on one’s initial presentation. That goes for a brand or an individual — personal or business. We are constantly judged for better or worse by those who don’t know us, and those who do. Sometimes, judgment is from the fair-minded, and sometimes, not. The idea, however, that it’s immoral to cast judgment from the initial impression is silly. The wrong-doing isn’t in the judging of others — it’s about the criteria used. More in this below.
The Personal Brand
In the personal context, when one gets dressed up for school, work — or for a night out, they are preparing both to be judged by their cover, and to judge others by their cover. Social media strategy relates well with this, too, with a recent statistic showing up to 71% of tweets being ignored — we’re judging the book by its cover. One reason we judge tweets by their cover (or headline), is synonymous with why we judge a lot of things in the same vein — the lack of time and resources, coupled with the influx of info. So, in this case, it’s incumbent upon us to make our book covers relevant and noticeable, while not being over-the-top — attraction, not promotion.
Getting Real About Judging Others
The problem isn’t people judging others, for this is a necessary tool; we’re all going to judge, or assess, based on the initial presentation, as we should. Good judgment in who we associate with, what brands we patronize, and who we learn from leads to better choices, better security, and a more enriched life. The problem comes from judging on a criteria of ignorance — whatever the subject may be. The enlightened will understand they don’t know everything from the initial impression, but if you have both your brand and your personal image together, your prospects — or potential friends — will get the right idea, and you’ll stand a good chance of succeeding in your goals.
If you find too many people presuming your posts, tweets, website or dating profile aren’t worth looking at — you might want to re-think the cover of your book and who you’re trying to reach, instead of hating the haters.