3. Marketing Design

Design Principles – Part 3 of 5

Universal Principles of Design, a book describing 125 interdisciplinary principles, is a fascinating reference. I extract 25 of those principles and offer relevant examples in a series of five blogs.

Today’s topics – marketing design:

  1. Anthropomorphic Form
  2. Archetypes
  3. Baby-Face Bias
  4. Colour
  5. Red Effect

Anthropomorphic Form

”A tendency to find forms that appear humanoid or exhibit humanlike characteristics appealing.”

Anthropomorphic chair

Bottle dispenser featuring male body form

When human-like forms are applied to design, these forms attract attention and elicit an emotional response. Abstract anthropomorphic forms have greater appeal over realistic body forms.

Anthropomorphic Form productsFeminine body proportions elicit associations with sexuality and vitality. Angular forms elicit masculine associations with power and aggression.

Round anthropomorphic forms suggest baby-like associations with innocence, helplessness, and naiveté.


“Universal patterns of theme and form resulting from innate biases or dispositions.”

Archetype womanArchetype SupermanArchetypes appear in mythology (death and rebirth), literature (hero and villain), and imagery (eyes and teeth). Archetypes are a product of unconscious biases and dispositions that have evolved in popular culture.

Archetypes evoke emotion. When using them, it is important to identify and apply them appropriately to a design. Since archetypes influence perception on a subconscious level, they are useful in situations where language is a barrier. Because the interpretation of archetypes is dependent on varying societal norms, cultural sensitivity must be exercised.

Baby-face Bias

“A tendency to see people and things with baby-faced features as more naïve, helpless, and honest than those with mature features.”

People and things with baby-faced characteristics are perceived as baby like and having baby-like personality attributes of naiveté, helplessness, honesty, and innocence. This principle transcends cultures and age ranges.

Baby-face characteristics include round features, large eyes, small noses, high forehead, and short chins.

Baby Face Bias Puss'n Boots

Baby Face Bias young woman

Baby Face Bias Man

Use baby-face bias to project perceptions of helplessness and innocence. It elicits responses of protectiveness and eagerness to support. In contrast, mature features convey perceptions of knowledge and authority.


“Colour is used in design to attract attention, group elements, indicate meaning, and enhance aesthetics.”

Group of 3 green apples compared to 1 red apple

Colour makes designs more visually interesting and pleasing. It can reinforce the organization and meaning of design elements.

Although there are three light green apples on the left, the strong colour of the red apple counters the visual weight and balances the presentation.

Red Effect

“A tendency to perceive women wearing red as more attractive and men wearing red as more dominant.”

Woman in short red dressRed communicates the fertility of females and the dominance of males in the animal kingdom.

Used to advantage in advertising and product design, females wearing red attract male attention and exude sexuality. Males sporting red signal dominance and power.

Red Effect motorbikeMale authority is also allied with red sports vehicles.

Next: Part 4 – Product Design


About DesignQuest

Artist. Communicator. Word nerd. Motivated by curiosity and dark chocolate.
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