When you say “squirrel”, people don’t look disgusted or freak out. They don’t panic when they see one. Sometimes they even smile and toss them food. Nobody calls a cheater a “dirty squirrel”.
On the other hand, everyone knows the term “dirty rat”. People hate rats. They’re disgusting, disease carrying, vile things. One glance at a rat and people scream in horror. When unions protest companies, they don’t inflate a giant squirrel, they inflate a rat. People will pay you to run around killing rats, but go around killing squirrels and they’ll arrest you.
Yet both spread disease. Both are rodents. Both bite. And both are credited with spreading the Black Plague.
The big difference? Packaging.
Squirrels are kinda cute. Unlike a rubbery rat’s tail, the squirrel has a fluffy tail that dances around when they move. The rat has a long, ugly nose. The squirrel has a short, cute nose. Packaging.
It’s something to think about when you design a product or it’s packaging. Little nuances make big differences. When you look friendly and approachable, people are more accepting and excited to interact with you. Brands like Apple, Tesla, Lululemon, Target and Coca Cola understand this and put millions into design and packaging. As a result, you want to like them.
Of course there’s more to a brand than aesthetics. You need to live up to people’s expectations and deliver on your brand promise. But… if you start with poor packaging and design, the rest is an uphill battle. Consider the fact that rats have been helping humans cure diseases for years in labs around the world. Yet we still can't get over our hate for them. Meanwhile squirrels, as far as I know, have done very little to make advances in the medical field. All they have to do is wiggle their tail and nibble on a nut and people love them.
It’s something to think about.