For a long time, the best way to tell if something was professional, high grade and worth a premium was by judging the slickness of the production values.
The Bourne Identity cost more to make than The Toxic Avenger. John Grisham's latest novel was clearly worth more than a self-published typewritten book of poetry. Sergeant Pepper was a more professional album than something from the Skinny Americans, that garage band down the street.
And so, restaurants got slicker, as did business proposals. We looked for cues on websites or in the way a conference was presented and the stage was dressed.
Now of course, there's autotune and ProTools, which can make any band sound like Britney. There's Kinko's and Moo cards and plenty of people who will sell you gloss for not so much money.
So I guess instead of slick we're now seeking transparency and reputation and guts.