Monday, April 13, 2009

Bad Design on Purpose

Every Monday, I decide that it's time to start being healthy and mindful for the first time in my life. I come in to work excited to begin, and then someone has brought donuts. Or a pie. And the circle of life continues.

But this morning I was excited to start things off right, in large part because during Sunday's Easter lunch, the pie-to-person ration was roughly 2:1. So I sat at my desk and innocently poured a nice bowl of raisin bran.

Scott was behind me and noticed the cereal box. He said "You know, they use bad package design on those boxes on purpose. That way you feel like you're getting a good deal, because clearly they didn't pour a lot of money into design for the brand."

At first, I was angry. I thought "How dare my cereal manipulate me like that!" But then I realized that I kind of like the design. I think it's homey and comforting. The box is purple, and features a big bowl of raisin bran with some milk being poured in. Sure, maybe it's not "good design" - it's pretty blocky and kind of looks like something I could make in Photoshop (I am not very good at Photoshop). But it's simple and unpretentious. There are no exclamation points or cartoon letters or a rooster wearing an iPod.

Does this mean their mind-control design "worked?" Or that I have bad taste? Either way, raisin bran is delicious.

3 comments:

Irene said...

Raisin bran is delicious... but doesn't that milk remind you of glue?

Scott Hutchinson said...

Ok, I sort of like the non-design of this box, makes me think these cereal people are so focused on the taste and quality in the box that the outside is hardly important, which some would call good design. This is not easy to do, or to apply across an entire product line -- and a mistake can cost millions -- look at tropicana's redesign fiasco: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/23/business/media/23adcol.html?emc=eta1

Sandra Suzanne said...

I think people are angry about the Tropicana thing because it reminds them of the generic food in Repo Man:
http://thefoodinista.files.wordpress.com/2009/03/rm_generics1.jpg