Visuelle Kommunikation

Laurent Steven Rueff

Visual Authorship under the Aspects of Market and Advertising Psychology

The field of visual communication uses a wide range of vectors, and yet all disciplines are based on a single purpose: to convey ideas or information by using visuals. When comparing the many partial fields, strong deviations in visual language can be discerned though. Thus, the design of posters or product packaging often conveys the impression that they have hardly been designed according to the design criteria taught at art academies. Font selection, colouring, and the use of stylistic elements follow their own design principles –easily recognizable by the frequent use of drop shadows, glossy effects, bright colours, and large-scale images, to name but a few examples.

This form of graphic design, which may seem inadequate to eyes trained at art academies, integrates the criteria of market and advertising psychology. It emphasizes a rapid awakening of interest and emotionality in order to – in a successful case – incite beholders to make a purchase (CTA, Call to Action).

Perceptual processes, consumer behaviour, advertising impact, or brand loyalty have been widely studied and serve as a compass by which to judge the design orientation of an advertising message, while design means usually play a rather subordinate role. Here, the focus is on conveying information as efficiently as possible, while aesthetics help promote immediacy. On the other hand, there are posters from the fields of art, culture, and music, which can often be regarded as quite sophisticated in terms of design.

The purpose of these posters is similar to that of visual means from the advertising segment: to address, arouse interest, draw attention and bring about a decision or action. Nevertheless, the use of creative designs could often hardly be more different.

Pictorial and typographic choices and concepts are accorded special attention. Frequently, special fonts are developed, and an aesthetic study and development can easily be discerned. Indeed, it seems as if the mechanisms of market psychology were ignored or even frowned upon. This impression is reinforced by the fact that the subject of marketing is hardly ever addressed at institutes of visual communication. The assumption that posters from the field of culture basically pursue similar goals as visual products of advertising raises quite some questions. In this case, cultural organizations would benefit from taking the criteria of market psychology into consideration in their designs to facilitate communicating a message as directly as possible. Instead, the focus is increasingly on sophisticated aesthetics. In fact, designers are often accorded great freedom and, consequently, their signature is easily recognized.

But is the statement that this aesthetic practice is entirely beyond the criteria of advertising psychology really true? Can we even integrate these basics into practice without neglecting authorship? The present Master’s thesis explores the limits of these two design philosophies and places them in a visual dialogue.