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Blogs by Madeleine Helme

Madeleine Helme

| 4 min read

How Graphic Design Helps Society

By Madeleine Helme

How Graphic Design Helps Society
How Graphic Design Helps Society

Table of contents

1) Encouraging good hygiene in the pandemic

2) Representation in graphic design

3) Accessible graphic design

4) Adapting to changing standards and information

Graphic design plays a huge part in the promotion and marketing of a business and its products or services. It’s used to create your logo, the design of your website, images for your blog, posters and flyers, product packaging, and much more. When graphic design is done right, it perfectly reflects your brand, effectively conveys the right message, and grabs the attention of the user.

But this isn’t all graphic design can achieve. Brands can use graphic design across different materials and media in order to fulfil their social responsibility. This is especially true of big brands that have a wide reach and influence, but small businesses can also do their part and show that they are socially conscious brands.

Here are a few ways graphic design can be used to help society, with some examples from real brands and products.

Encouraging good hygiene in the pandemic

KFC - It’s ‘Finger Lickin’ Good
KFC – It’s ‘Finger Lickin’ Good

Now more than ever during the coronavirus, we are conscious about how our actions and habits can put not only our own health at risk, but also the health of those around us. While we’re trying to follow the guidelines set out for us, big brands and the media should play a role in encouraging these behaviours and making them easier to follow.

KFC have made a change to their long-standing slogan to reflect this. We all know KFC as being ‘Finger Lickin’ Good’. But licking your fingers isn’t the most sensible thing to do during a pandemic. It could increase the spread of germs unless you thoroughly wash or sanitise your hands immediately after doing so. To help prevent the spread of coronavirus, KFC have said "That thing we always say? Ignore it. For now."

The fast food brand has admitted that their slogan “doesn't quite fit in the current environment." Their graphic design team has responded by updating their packaging and advertisements to remove this slogan. For now, they have simply pixelated the words Finger Lickin’, stating that their original slogan will return when the time is right.

Representation in graphic design

Dove - Real Beauty
Dove – Real Beauty

In today’s socially conscious society, it’s important that people of all walks of life receive positive representation. This means that people of different genders, ages, ethnicities, sexual orientations, abilities, and beliefs should be represented in the media in a way that empowers them and doesn’t contribute to any harmful stereotypes. Positive representation is about ensuring that everyone feels seen and accepted.

One good example of how marketing and graphic design has achieved this is the Dove ‘Real Beauty’ campaign. Dove have been championing Real Beauty since 2004. We’re used to seeing celebrities and models in the media who have so-called ‘perfect’ bodies. Slim women and muscular men who have often been photoshopped to look a certain way. By seeing these images everywhere we look, unrealistic standards of ‘beauty’ are developed. This can give people unhealthy attitudes towards their own bodies.

With their Real Beauty campaign, Dove decided to buck this trend. Their print and TV ads feature ‘regular’ women of different shapes, sizes, and ethnicities. Women who may not fit into the stereotypical standards of the beauty industry, but who are beautiful all the same. This helps to challenge representations of beauty in the media and dispel the insecurities that regular women may have about their bodies.

Accessible graphic design

ThinkSkin - braille packaging
ThinkSkin – braille packaging

As well as giving people with different disabilities positive representation in design and the media, another socially responsible action is to make your graphic design accessible for as many people as possible. This ensures that people with disabilities are not excluded from seeing and interacting with your brand and its messages.

This could be as simple as carefully choosing the font and colours used in your graphic design. A greater contrast between text and its background makes it easier to read for everyone. This could mean the difference between a visually impaired person being able to read your website or not.

Choose colours that really stand out against one another. Larger fonts can also help visually impaired users when reading your text. Additionally, certain fonts and formats have been found to be easier to read for users with dyslexia.

Soap brand ThinkSkin released products in 2019 with braille featured on the packaging to help blind and visually impaired customers identify the different products in their line. By considering different disabilities when designing your marketing materials, brands are doing their bit to make society more inclusive for everyone.

Adapting to changing standards and information

Another responsibility of the media is to adapt their messaging and graphic design as society evolves. What was considered acceptable 10 years ago may no longer be seen that way, so industries need to adapt to meet these standards. This may be due to shifting cultural norms or as a result of new information and research that changes our opinions of something.

If you ever watched the TV series Mad Men, then you’ll have an idea of the challenges the advertising industry faced in the 20thcentury in response to scientific research into the effects of cigarettes. Brands went from advertising smoking cigarettes as a cool activity recommended by doctors, to wondering how to promote a product that could seriously damage their customers’ health.

These days, cigarette brands must play their socially responsible part by printing warning messages on their packs that show the consequences of smoking. Often, these feature disturbing images showing the physical side effects of smoking on the body. This is now mandatory in many countries in an attempt to encourage people to quit smoking.

We often hear about the negative effects the media has on society, but you can see that media and graphic design can have a positive effect, instead. It just requires businesses to play their part in encouraging positive representation and socially responsible decision making.

Do you need graphic design services for your brand? From social media and websites to posters and banners, we can help you convey your brand’s messages in an eye-catching way. Contact Vitty to find out more about our graphic design services.