The Medium Is the Message
Marshall McLuhan coined the phrase “The medium is the message.” McLuhan was considered one of the cutting edge media theorists of his day and realized that the “container” of the message or the medium influenced how the final message was perceived.
As graphic artists it is important to understand and use this concept effectively in making sure that your message, whether it is a marketing piece or stationary design, is clear and appropriate to the project you are producing.
Marketers have found that a simple change in color can make a world of difference in how products sell. According to Wall Street Journal on Marketing, 1996 edition:
“… Consumers ascribe a sweeter taste to orange drinks the darker the orange shade of the can or bottle. It’s difficult to correlate color with product sales. But Berni claims that when it changed Canada Dry’s sugar-free ginger ale can to green and white from red, sales shot up more than 25 percent. The red can had sent a misleading cola message to consumers.”
Good graphic design incorporates effective color palette selection, graphics, images, fonts, and information. The following examples give good direction on how to utilize these elements in your projects. Some are world famous while others are not but they all show effective graphic design techniques.
The effective design element is highlighted in italics after the product name.
Coca Cola - Use of Color
In this instance the color red is so closely connected with this product that people around the world automatically associate a red soda can with Coca Cola. The color red is attention getting and also clearly separates the Coca Cola brand from other similar products on store shelves. This is smart thinking and effective color design. If you want to garner attention for your graphic designs choose some bright primary colors or use good contrast.
“Starting Small” Kid’s Clothes Hamper - Use of Contrast and Graphics
Here’s a graphic design that uses contrast as an element in the overall design. The cute little monkey is featured in a nice tan pastel color with green highlights in the leaves. The background is a rich dark brown color. The overall graphic is effective and friendly for any children’s room.
Spalding Basketball - Use of Font
What do you do when you have a highly recognizable font that is associated with your product? One word: Big. In the case of Spalding, a manufacturer of various sports equipment, the Spalding font is the main graphic element here. Nothing fancy, just the unique Spalding font. Sometimes less is more.
Healthy Choice Frozen Food - Use of Images and Information
Back in the day frozen food was considered “sub-standard” and convenience food. But this has changed and frozen food has been elevated to a position of being a healthy food choice. The graphic design does several things well. It displays the food in a photograph, it shows the nutritional ingredients on the front, and it uses a color palette (green) that connotes the idea of health.
We’ll continue our series on effective messaging in your graphic designs. We’ll see you then!
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