In former Apple Evangelist Guy Kawasaki‘s book Enchantment, he explains how enchanting brands, overcome resistance by providing social proof. The example he gave was iPod headphones. Back in 2001 when the first iPod launched, most MP3 player headphones were black. It would have been logical for Apple to follow suit, after all, the headphones aren’t the product – the iPod is.

But iPods are often tucked into a pocket, meaning the headphones are the only visible aspect. By making the headphones white they created a powerful signal of an iPod user. And as more people purchased iPods, this created a sense of ubiquity. That feeling that something is everywhere.

As Guy Kawasaki writes, providing social proof helps overcome resistance as it creates the perception of ubiquity which is good since “familiarity breeds commitment” (rather than contempt!).

While in Venice recently, I experienced another example of colour providing a powerful social cue. While strolling the narrow cobbled streets, I noticed a number of people in the outdoor cafes sipping a bright orange drink. This eye catching colour isn’t one that looked like any other drink I’d seen. It was clear that these people were all enjoying the same beverage. My curiosity was sparked. I had to try it myself.

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Saluti! Aperol Spritz in Venice

This bright tangerine-coloured drink is an Aperol Spritz. Aperol is a aperitif with orange, rhubarb and a secret mix of herbs. It’s mixed with sparkling water and champagne.

It tastes ok. 

It’s safe to say, I wouldn’t have tried it, if I hadn’t been curious of it’s popularity evidenced by the distinctive colour.

Applying the power of ubiquity

Both iPod headphones and Aperol Spritz are examples of using colour to provide physical evidence of social proof. Igniting curiosity while building trust.

How can this be applied to the digital world and tech marketing?

Social proof is showing potential customers that their peers trust and enjoy using your products. You see this represented in many tech websites as logo rolls like this:

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Logo roll on

Or customer testimonials:

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Customer stories on

Media references (this might be more important to potential investors than customers):

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Media mentions on

Social proof can also work well for content marketing like blog subscriptions or ebooks:

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Intercom does a great job of showing that your peers are already investing their time in their ebooks and blog content (check out their ebook on customer support here, it’s also a great landing page reference). 

Do you have other ideas for creating social proof online? Share them in the comments below! 

Posted by Nicole Williams

I'm a marketing geek with a passion for tech. Previously, I was the marketing manager for SilverStripe (open source CMS and cloud PaaS) Currently, podcaster and blogger for and founder of Wellington Marketing meetup. Currently exploring Europe and living the dream! I'm always up for a chat about marketing and I love sharing my experiences so that others don't have to learn the hard way.

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