How do you know that the colour that you see as blue is the same that everyone else sees as blue? Extensive tests have shown that we all perceive the world differently. A claim that can be taken beyond mere colours and can be applied across the whole spectrum of life. So when you reference that really cool thing from that show, the person that you’re talking to might be thinking of something completely different. You say potato they think tomato. The notion that everybody follows different thought processes is integral to the design process, particularly in the branding process. The classic examples are the companies with ill-chosen website addresses, such as IHA Vegas’ website – www.ihavegas.com (subsequently taken down). But the design process is a potential minefield when it comes to naming your business; potentially leading to confusion over what you actually sell.
Penguin Meat Supply Ltd.
Of course sometimes the misconception can arise after you’ve created the campaign. Accenture’s six year sponsorship of Tiger Woods is a prime example of how perception can change after you’ve created the design. Tiger used to represent clear thinking, strategy, and determination; whereas now when you mention him the associations are somewhat different.
Advert by Accenture
When it’s taken into account though, people perceptions and the interpretations that they draw can be a powerful tool in the designer’s arsenal. A playful pun, or the double meaning inherent in a design can increase the impact of a piece of branding or an advert. Like the Fedex arrow, or the Amazon smile, the hidden meanings can be the difference between design that doesn’t interest and design that people want to share. After all, if you can get people going ‘Look at this, isn’t it great’ then you know that you’ve done your job well.
Cover Photograph – Billie Segal/Cover Design – Michael Salu