Halo Effect

So let me start with a story.

It's been a while now, but the memory still remains.

During my beta years, I used to be in love with a girl. You know all sunshine and rainbows (and shit).

She was hot, and smart, and funny, and ambitious and I had a great time with her. I was never bored and I wanted to be with her all the time - I know I wasn't greatly valuing my time back then.

To cut the long story short, I thought she was the best woman alive. 

I thought I had it all and then some.

But a few years after she dumped my ass, I realized that most of my image was simply an illusion. My head created this fictional image of her, imparting her extra characteristics that were never there.

I mean, after becoming emotionally unattached and after being tons more rational, I could clearly see that 80% of what I thought I was seeing, was a delusion. 

She was clearly hot and averagely smart and all, but if I stripped down her looks from her brains, she'd still be a totally average girl.

In other words, I was a victim of the halo effect.

From Wikipedia:

"The halo effect is a cognitive bias in which an observer's overall impression of a person, company, brand, or product influences the observer's feelings and thoughts about that entity's character or properties."

Damn you halo!!!

I could easily mention hundreds of examples here. Apple is among the brightest examples. Although I am a huge fan of Apple, I own almost every product they ever launched, I cannot admit that a huge percentage of what makes me buy Apple products is their phenomenal marketing and the extremely high perceived value they make you think their products have.

They're so beautifully designed and they pay all this attention to every little detail that they make you automatically think that their products are inherently superior to any other product in the same category.

Okay man, I get all that about halo effect. From now on I'll date fat, ugly women only, and I won't buy another Apple device, ever. But what's your point?

Far from it, my point is not to date fugly women or stop buying Apple products. My point is that if you're serious about entrepreneurship, you should not only be able to recognize this bias, but also learn how to take advantage of it.

Am I a victim of halo effect?

Absolutely. No question about it. That was the easy part to answer. But let's see a few actionable tips that'll help you measure its effect from now on.

If you're a human being, you've been victimized by halo effect every day. Everything that's pleasing to look, or feel or hear or taste, will unfortunately make you believe that it has more inherited superior characteristics.

From people to brands, and from food to music, it applies everywhere. Some are more dangerous and difficult to observe than others though.

The prettier the other person the worst it becomes to tell if all your feelings are true or not. It'll take tons of rationality to be able to clearly see, where these positive characteristics stop and where halo begins.

One surefire way I've found is to have a mastermind group to help you with that. Being emotionally unattached, they'll be in a far better position to judge instead of you. Whether we talk about your girlfriend, a car, a smartphone, etc. ask from people who are trustworthy, to help you out.

So this new super tablet from Apple may look hot, but it might not be of your need at this point.

How to make halo work for you

Now, this is the juicy stuff. After we learned what the heck halo effect is, let's see a few simple ways to make it work for us.

First of all, like I said it can be applied to almost any occasion. Since everything in life is a sale, whether we sell our products to a client or ourselves to a sexual partner, halo works everywhere.

The basic idea, is to increase the perceived value of what we want to sell in every occasion. 

In relationships

Halo effect can play a major role in all social, sexual or business relationships you're going to have in your life.

What you should aim for is presenting yourself as good as possible in every occasion. Whether it's a business meeting, a romantic dinner, or a boys night out, you should present yourself in the best possible way.

That's not to say you should always walk around in tuxedo, but you should look like you belong to the top 5% of the people in every specific context.

From your dressing to your shoes, and from your teeth to your accessories, all should scream quality on you. I don't necessarily mean expensive. I mean all your image should speak of high class and quality.

If your clothing is appropriate and classy, if your physique is good and if your body language is correct then you have won 80% of the game already.

Forget about the start upper mentality where moving around in sweatshirt and all-stars is cool and trendy. Unless you're somebody very well know and respected, you can't afford to miss all the lost opportunities due to your pathetic image.

You might be the smartest person in the world, but human nature is human nature. If you look unsuccessful, dirty and poor, people will automatically attach a hundred more negative characteristics on you because of negative halo effect.

On the other hand if you look like a million bucks, your perceived value skyrockets, and all people will tend to think more of you.

Of course that's not to say, if you look sharp, all doors will open and people will warship you. What I'm saying is that a cool looking guy or girl, will have it a lot easier to influence other people in general.

Think of if like this: Let's pretend that as soon as you reach a certain percentage of influence (like 80%), all people will do stuff for you. Taking advantage of halo effect could fill your "influence bucket" like 20% right off the bat. And it's passive! You don't have to actively try about it. It's already on you!

Especially if you're a man, you're in luck. A very nice blog I often read is Real Men Real Style, where Antonio Centeno offers very valuable info to men that want to look sharp. This blog helped me a lot when I was starting to build me image.

In business

Like it works with people, halo is powerful in business as well. The principle works the exact same way only we substitute people with a service/product.

Based on evolutionary reasons, people had to make judgments and decisions fast. That's why emotions are there. So what people say about the importance of the first look is true.

No matter if your goal is to sell a watch, a loaf of bread or a subscription, you should always try to increase its perceived value as much as possible. Actually the whole marketing industry is entirely based on halo effect.

Like with yourself before, you should strive to make your product as presentable as possible, make it look of the highest quality, and a real bargain for your potential customer.

Since every product or service has its own quirks and perks, I can't comment on everything. But fortunately Internet is full of excellent marketing resources. As time passes you'll become better and better at marketing your products and services.

Closing remarks

Value is above everything. No question about it. But in every occasion people will need the extra help from us to give our product or us a chance.

You may be the sweetest heart in the world or the smartest person in the room, but if you look like crap and you're fat and filthy, very few people will actually want to know you.

If you're a firm believer that people are going to like you for your skills and talents only, I got bad news for you. People in general are super emotional creatures. It'll take a valiant effort to convince them that you're worthy if their first impression about you or your product is lousy.

So what's the point to shoot your own foot since you could change the image of yourself or your company and take fool advantage of this little psychological switch that's called halo effect?