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viewpoint

Design as a tool for marketing

| Friday, April 5, 2019

Among businesses and companies, there has been a disenchantment and even skepticism toward graphic design as a component of content marketing. They are missing a huge chunk of communication opportunities. 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual, and visuals are processed 60,000 times faster in the brain than text. Before the audience begins to read the content, their opinion is shaped by the design. Appearance is then one of the factors that they use to form inferences about experience and credence attributes. However, an overuse and misuse in design magazines, books and websites can sometimes manipulate the audience and negatively affect customers’ buying decisions. Thus, it is important to understand how graphic designers create works that impact our perception.

There are specific elements underlying holistic package designs that are crucial for designers to keep in mind. Every generic design is defined by the association of a certain set of design factors and elements in certain relationships: natural, harmony and elaborate. The first factor, natural, is composed of very basic characteristics such as color schemes, organic versus representative typography and images of nature. For example, a banner with a tree and green background is observed to be more environmental-friendly than that with a building and yellow background. The second factor, harmony, is all about balance and uniformity. For instance, a poster designed with symmetric elements surrounding a central subject is considered to be more harmonious. The third factor, elaborate, illustrates the depth of a design — how well designers can deliver a crucial message by taking into account all details such as typography, amount of image and text, shape, etc. If they fail to make wise decisions to elaborate their work, the essence of a message is not addressed. Thus, from the very beginning, designers need to carefully choose design elements and determine the desired level of congruity among them.

In addition, there are five holistic types of package designs: massive, contrasting, natural, delicate and nondescript designs. It can be inferred that consumers tend to perceive brands with massive packages as low in quality, inexpensive, less healthy and not classy. Take chips as an example, regardless of their brands, almost all types of chips have family size for cheaper value, and most people consider chips as unhealthy food. In contrast to massive designs, contrasting packages lead to stronger impressions of ruggedness but still hint at low quality and inexpensive. This is probably because contrasting packages, despite getting customers’ attention, fail to illustrate sophistication or quality of the product. Instead, natural designs can generate impressions of sincerity and high quality. As a result, they are perceived as healthy and reasonably expensive. To illustrate, nowadays more and more people are willing to pay more money for organic-labeled products because they are regarded as healthy and good options. However, since natural designs are simple and pure, they do not draw much excitement and ruggedness from consumers. Last but not least, delicate designs will generate impressions of high quality, classy, and expensive.

In conclusion, when it comes to product packages, it primarily depends on what brand characteristics managers want to polish and how well designers can accomplish their goals. It is important to understand that before the audience begins to read the content, their opinion is shaped by the design presentation of a product. Thus, if design communicates it is a process — not just a form — it deserves more emphasis in the business world.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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