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Recently we examined the repercussions of poor design in a virtual setting. This new post is a tribute to good design in a physical product, one that most of us have within easy reach every single day. For all those who think that design is merely a nice-to-have… I hope this makes you think twice.

I recently applied for the new Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, based on recommendations I received here and here. When it comes to Credit Cards, we all ask ourselves, “What will I do with this new resource?” and I am no different. In the extreme, Credit Cards are dreams made manifest, and the banks know this. But what I got with this particular card was so much more.

If you look at this image of the card, you’ll notice something a bit… off. CSPwithchip - Copy

Where’s the Card Number?
It’s on the back of the card, and this is where Chase’s genius begins.


  • They started with a common experience, then flipped it.
  • You’ll notice it every time you use it to pay for something
  • When you use it in public everyone else will notice it, too.

So right away anyone who sees the card realizes that it’s different, unique, and special among all other credit cards. It begs the question, Why did Chase do it this way? Any time a brand can make its potential customers curious in a good or even neutral way, it’s on the right path.

When you first handle the card, you realize the second defining attribute: it’s heavy. Not enough to weigh down your wallet or purse, but just enough that you can feel the difference when you hold it in your hand. (By the way, you will notice from the picture above that the Chase card has an embedded Chip. This is not the source of the additional weight.) If we free-associate with this sensation for a moment, these are the words that come to mind:

  • Secure
  • Stable
  • Solid

In one of the most subtle ways possible, Chase has instilled the most desirable descriptors of its brand directly into its customers’ subconscious. The exact words that every financial institution hopes to implant through extremely expensive channels on mainstream media, Chase accomplished by tweaking one overlooked characteristic. To be fair, you have to hold it for yourself to realize it weighs more – promoting this “un-feature” in a commercial or print ad would miss the point. But for everyone that holds one in their hand, they’ll know.

Two simple differences – the number is on the back and the card weighs a bit more – add up to a big changes in behavior:

I use it on larger purchases

With these two factors in mind, Chase makes it just that much easier to favor this card over others when considering larger purchases. When we believe a product is special, unique, and secure, we’re more likely to use it when it really counts.

I use it more often

It’s nice to behold and even better to hold – again Chase gives you more subliminal reasons to use this card more often than other cards. In fact, once I got this card my very next action was to remove every other card from my wallet. Why use those when I could make things simpler and just use this one? It it makes everything so much easier. Which brings me to the most important point of all…

I trust it more

This is the ultimate goal for any brand. Customer lifetime value, brand loyalty, referrals… at the root of all of these concepts you will find the naked truth: there are a million ways to make a sale, but trust is the only way to make a customer.

Of course we need to keep everything in perspective – it’s tempting to wield a Credit Card as a status symbol, but remember that pride will fool us while ambition will fuel us. There is a difference. Also, I want to explicitly state that this post contains no affiliate links whatsoever. This card made me a fan of Chase, but these lessons in design make any monetary commission seem trivial in comparison. Recognizing the tenets of good design in one product can open your eyes to good design everywhere. That’s invaluable.


Good design in appearance has come to be expected. But the potential for good design across time – revealed in the pace and staging of a well-crafted meal, for example – still offers unlimited opportunities for engagement and delight. The experience makes the meal, and if you invite your guests to create Mango Popsicles before the celebration begins, they’ll enjoy them even more at its conclusion. Recipe courtesy Desserts for Breakfast.