There’s a reason why you need a degree to be a graphic designer. It’s not just about putting some pretty pictures and colours on an advert, there’s so much more to it!

What isn’t surprising is that psychology plays a huge part in effective design and creating conversions from these designs. We’ve explored the key models and elements to consider and the meaning behind them.

Mental models

First up are mental models.

This is the intuitive way our brains act and the natural processes we follow to absorb information from various stimuli. In order to design following this model, think of the flow of your design, does it read from left to right, top to bottom?

Looking at it, is the messaging clear, or have you lost the meaning and purpose behind creative flair?

By performing these checks you not only validate that the design is serving its purpose, but that you’re making it easy for your audience to understand. The easier to digest, the more likely action will be taken.

The Von Restorff effect

When creating marketing material it is key to make the design memorable. This is where the Von Restorff effect may come into play.

The effect is named after a psychiatrist who conducted a study to identify what information from a series of lists stood out as memorable. For each list, a singular element was changed to make it ‘odd’ compared to the rest of the list. It was these items that participants could recall the most.

This research can be used in designs by drawing attention to the most important part of your campaigns through your messaging, colour, typeface or imagery. It can be most commonly seen in campaigns through ‘calls-to-action’.

However, it doesn’t have to just be used for specific information, but entire brands can use it to stand out from the crowd. 

An example of a brand that has embedded the Von Restorff effect into its identity is Monzo. Monzo is a part of the banking sector, one that is typically flooded with corporate tones of blue and grey.

However, establishing themselves as a radical and modern brand, Monzo chose to use pink, yellow, green, and blue in their brand palette. It has also used the effect within the physical aspect of their service, its bank card. This is fluorescent pink and a bold statement that catches people’s attention.

Linking closely to this example is the power of colour in the psychology of design.

Colour psychology origins

Swiss psychiatrist, Carl Jung, studied the effects of colour on the human mind. From his studies, he created colour therapy, where he encouraged his patients to express how they were feeling through the use of colour. He highlighted that based on your mood and personality traits you are likely to choose different colours.

Evolving from this study, colour psychology looks at not only expressing emotions but how it can evoke certain emotions and behaviour. It can also affect our decision-making processes.

The most basic groupings of colours and emotions are warm and cool tones with warm colours being linked to happiness and cool colours linked to serenity and freshness.

This can be important to your messaging, the personality you want to convey in your design, and brand identity.

There are many advantages to considering colour in your design. According to HubSpot, 93% of purchasing judgements are made on visual perceptions with 84.7% of respondents citing colour as their main reason for buying a particular product.

So let’s delve deeper into what specific colours mean.

The colour red is associated with high energy, love, excitement, action, boldness and passion. However, in different cultures it can mean different things. In China, red is a lucky colour and so for their stock market, when an increase occurs it appears as red rather than green. In western culture, red is associated with bad figures.

The colour blue is associated with security, calmness, honesty and strength whilst also being perceived as caring and trustworthy. It is often used corporately and can also be linked to loyalty and stability.

The colour yellow is viewed as logical, playful, optimistic, forward-thinking and confident. It is said to be the favourite colour of Gen Z.

The colour Orange is viewed as happy, sociable, friendly and affordable. It is also a great colour for attracting attention and is used for the colour of traffic cones and calls-to-action. Here it is seen as a less aggressive colour than red.

The use of green depicts growth, organic, nature, freshness, care and the earth. Bright tones give the impression of vitality and life, with dark shades creating images of the outdoors.

Purple is viewed as imaginative, creative, nostalgic, luxurious and royal. It is also often associated with magic, mystery and the supernatural.

Pink is associated with energy, youth and excitement. It has been pointed out as millennials favourite colour.

Black is used to depict sophistication, luxury, seductiveness, formality and authority.

Finally, white signifies freshness and new beginnings.

Use colours within your design to convey these images and to enhance your messaging. Doing so encourages the processing of information and recall through the use of multiple stimuli, known as dual-coding.

How can we help with your design?

Make sure your designs pop by using a quality printer like us, Bascom. If mailing your collateral, choose a provider that ensures it gets into the hands of the right audience. 

We offer design to fulfilment services to ensure your campaigns reach your target markets.

To find out more, contact our team for a consult to see how we can help you,