If there is one thing true about culture — it is ever changing. Minor things along with major events all have an impact on culture. What constitutes a cause today may not create one tomorrow. What trends today might not make the pages of Vogue next week.
Graphic design has a way of infiltrating every aspect of society, from the ads in magazines to the look of a website. It would be nearly impossible to get through a day without seeing some element of design somewhere.
Because of the prevalence of design in modern human lives, it does have an impact on culture in a number of ways.
1. Grabbing Attention
Before you can have an impact on culture, you have to grab the attention of people. Good graphic design accomplishes this by presenting things in a surprising way, good use of negative space or by putting the emphasis on a specific element normally not highlighted for the consumer.
The CDC’s anti-smoking campaign featured real people dealing with the impact of smoking. The screenshot above is from a video featuring Becky, a mom who deals with COPD and explaining how it limits her ability to enjoy life with her family.
Thanks to the various anti-smoking videos and ads such as this one, around 100,000 people made the decision to stop smoking. The straightforward design of the ads and the commercials had a big impact on society.
2. Get Behind a Cause
If you design a website or ad to promote a cause, your overall design can get people on board or drive them away. First, you must consider color psychology. Some colors invoke basic emotions or even create a sense of trust. The overall aesthetics of your design can cause site visitors to stay on your site or can drive them away. You want the audience to get behind your cause and not leave and go to another cause instead.
3. Invoking Emotions
There are times when society is knocked to its knees. This includes tragedies or disasters that hurt our collective hearts to the core. These types of events provide an opportunity for graphic designers to create art that begins to heal society or sends a positive message that begins to replace the horror of the event. In these cases, the designs serve as a healing balm to wounded spirits.
The shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida was a horrific event that will ripple throughout society for many years as people seek a solution to school shootings. Even though nothing can fully take away the pain of those experiencing this event, knowing people care and think about them helps. Students from a neighboring school wrote messages of love and comfort on a large piece of paper, while SpeedPro laminated and stabilized the banner for longevity.
There are times when a company simply needs to get across some basic information. While cute, catchy designs are memorable, you can also utilize elements such as data visualizations to grab the reader’s interest and present the information you want the consumer to absorb. In fact, infographics get liked and shared three times as often as other types of content.
People love to laugh and enjoy life. The general public appreciates entertainment and pays closer attention to a humorous message than a dry, serious one. When the public pays attention, the advertising has a chance of influencing them. In addition, people tend to remember a funny campaign more readily than straight facts.
When Metro Trains wanted to remind people to be careful around their trains, they decided to use a bit of humor to grab the attention of passengers. They came up with a cartoon commercial titled “Dumb Ways to Die” and used a bit of “black humor” to grab attention. The cartoon features a catchy song and cartoon characters dancing and singing in dumb ways they died. After the campaign, a 21 percent decrease in accidents resulted.
6. Instill a Sense of Trust
There are some brands the public almost automatically trusts, such as government entities and well-established brands. In a situation where a brand is well known and recognized, you can utilize the company logo and colors to instill a sense of trust as you create the design for a new advertising campaign or website. Users will automatically find the content more reliable if they relate it back to that brand image.
7. Start a Trend
Some of the best designs start a new trend that other designers follow or the general public gets on board with. Videos are a good example of trends. YouTube was one of the first social media sites featuring videos of all different types, but once other social media giants saw the impact of video, they too got on board and allowed users to live stream and more easily share video snippets.
Graphic Design Impacts Culture
Graphic design infiltrates society in more ways than you can imagine. Not only is it used in advertising, but also design impacts fashion, websites, photography and many other elements of daily life. While some of the impacts of graphic design is subtle, other elements change society at the core, such as offering comfort to a grieving school body or encouraging HIV patients in Africa to take medicine.