Category Opinions

The persuasive powers of design


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Is design persuasive for the right reasons?

Oh those brands are sneaky aren’t they? They’ll go to any length to ensure we spend our hard earned cash on their products. They suck us in with their beautifully designed packaging and more fool us, we buy right into it.

It is no secret that a lot of these items contain exactly the same product inside but are dressed up differently to encourage us to spend more and as consumers, we assume the item with the ‘frillier’ packaging is better quality. Marie, one of our designers, has written a blog about judging a brand by its cover before. Have a look, it makes for some interesting reading.

But how far will these brands go to reach their target audience? It might surprise you what lows they reach (it might not but have a read anyway!)

Persuasive Design Powers

Recently, an ad-shell was circulated around our office showing the profile of a young boy. It wasn’t an unusual image, it didn’t stand out and there was nothing of particular interest to draw the eye in. But the design of the ad-shell, created for a Spanish company called ‘Aid to Children and Adolescents at Risk Foundation’, hides a secret message aimed directly at children. You can see the ad here.

From a child’s point of view, the boy is beaten and bruised. The ad is directly targeted at children and the bruises can only be seen by anyone under four feet tall. This is a really clever ad by the Spanish Organisation and they have used the concept brilliantly. But what about when this is used directly in product advertising?

If you are in a supermarket, you’ll see the majority of products are aimed at the money-holder. But walk down a few of the aisles – usually confectionery and cereal – and the colours, design and characters on the packaging are noticeably different. It is much brighter and far more appealing to the younger target. Of course a child is going to be more engaged with a box of sugary cornflakes if a tiger is telling you they’re ‘Grrreat’! And as if a chocolate-based cereal isn’t enough to sell itself, a monkey in a cap should just about do it. And this is where ‘pester power’ makes a play. Excessive nagging to the spender and it is likely the child has won. The cereal box is in the trolley and off to the till to be paid for.

The Power of the Cereal Box

Lucky Charms Cereal

So the colours, design and characters on cereal boxes are already influencing their target but it has also now been suggested that the characters or mascots on the packaging are looking downwards directly at children. Apparently eye-contact increases trust even if it is coming from 3 little men named Snap, Crackle and Pop.

This all sounds a bit ridiculous to us. Unsurprisingly, the majority of studies conducted on this theory are American and based on cereals our food regulators just won’t allow because they don’t want British children bouncing off the walls any more than they already are!

We’ll let you make your own mind up on this one.

Sarah Meakins – Junior Account Manager