Design Science – Package and Logo Design: Art or Science? Or Both?

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As a consumer (but also a marketing professional), packages that immediately capture my attention are those that push the envelope in terms of design, form & function.

Take Puma’s “Clever Little Bag” for example.   It is a 21st century replacement for the traditional shoebox that combines a low carbon footprint with its reusable shopping bag, with a cardboard box, to keep shoes protected, store-able and portable.  It looks great, serves many purposes, considers not only the end user, but also logistics, Simply put, its genius.

Alas, many feel that design is a subjective art, but at Imagemme it is a scientific process, and creating powerful and effective brand value assets taps into emotion, psychology, and yes, even math.

Here’s a little look into the science behind some seemingly aesthetic disciplines.

Logo Design

As one of the most important brand representatives, a perfectly designed logo is memorable, instantly recognizable, embodies the brand’s personality, and provides an emotional connection.

Determining the most effective techniques to logo design varies and is industry-dependent. Companies adjust their approach for proper alignment with the type of service or product they offer: health and pharmaceutical company logos should provide the impression of trustworthiness and reliability; while hair and skincare brands may create logos that articulate concepts of desirability and allure.  It must also apply seamlessly across all brand touch-points.

Package Design

The same basic rules apply to packaging design.  There are, of course, certain standards for package designs, depending on the category, that take into consideration practicality over design, but good designers can balance both.  Packages in the OTC Drug category must adhere to certain FDA regulations, but make no mistake, the consumer is also buying them for the way they look.  And there is a reason why products in a certain categories use certain standards….because they work.  Why do you think most sunscreen brands use the colors yellow & orange?  It creates the appropriate cues in the mind of the consumer and drives purchases.  Consumers have been proven to make purchases based on color, package utility etc, and with almost 75% of purchases being impulse today, your packaging has to be cueing the right emotions.

But math & science you say?

Well, logo designs must be clear and symmetric in order to appear well balanced to the human eye.  To be considered well balanced all good designers pour over color, saturation, shape, line density, proportions etc

Consider the long studied golden ratio.  The golden ratio is a mathematical concept applied to art, science,  architecture and even financial markets and asserts that the ratio of the sum of the quantities to the larger quantity is equal tothe ratio of the larger quantity to the smaller one. Da Vinci, Le Corbusier and Dali are all said to have used the golden ratio to produce their finest works and even the Parthenon’s facade is said to exhibit principles of the golden rectangles.  The golden ratio intrinsically ties beauty and mathematics and creates a standard for what can be considered subjective bodies of work.

In Hollywood, the golden ratio has been applied to celebrity favorites and identifies exactly why our favorite and highest paid celebs are the most sought after….our minds register their physical perfection and attribute that perfection to success.  Thus we believe in them, see all their movies and welcome them into our homes and lives.

The same idea can be applied logo design, packaging design, web design etc.  For our brains to like something, that “something” must register with us emotionally, and also be perceived as “perfect” to the human eye.  Often times we cannot articulate why exactly we don’t like something, but our eyes and our brains are well aware that proportions are off.

Good design is also emotional.  As human beings we are hardwired to care.  Don’t believe me?  Just ask Martin Lindstrom, global marketing expert, who studies Functional MRI (FMRI’s) to see the effects that products and marketing collateral have on our brain at the emotional level.  Certain colors can elicit an emotional response due to personal or cultural references, certain key words as well, of course.

The point is, the best marketing pieces are the ones that consult standards for beauty and emotion to create strong and meaningful connections beyond the visceral.  Good brands aren’t just well-designed, good brands are built on cross-disciplinary strategy that considers math, science, art, culture, history to create valuable references that resonate visually and emotionally with their target consumer.  Good brands think of everything.

Related Article(s):

Brand and Product Innovation: Radical vs. Incremental?

Seema Shariat is the Digital Marketing Analyst for the Imagemme New York City office.

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