Current Issue Summary
March 2023 (Vol. 63, Issue 1)
A Guide to Graphic Design for Functional versus Experiential Ads: Color-Evoked Emotion and Design Complexity Can Enhance Effectiveness
Previous research about graphic design in advertising focused on content differences between functional and experiential ads. Yuanyuan Zhu (The University of Western Australia Crawley), Tina Tessitore (IÉSEG School of Management, University of Lille), Paul Harrigan (The University of Western Australia Crawley) and Kristof Coussement (IÉSEG School of Management, University of Lille) go a step further by investigating graphic-design differences and how they enhance the effectiveness of these two ad types.
First, they ran an observational study assessing graphic-design differences in real-life functional and experiential ads. What followed was a series of experiments exploring how the effectiveness of functional and experiential ads might be enhanced through two key graphic-design elements: color (in terms of the emotions evoked: pleasure, arousal, dominance) and design complexity. In each experiment, the authors showed participants two ads they had created for two different hypothetical car rental service brands. The “WHEELDEAL” ad was designed to be highly functional with a detailed description of the service and its merits. The “BEFREE” ad was designed to be highly experiential and depicted a young couple on a road trip in a convertible, driving along the coastline.
The ﬁndings offer hands-on guidance to advertising graphic designers:
- Functional ads in current best practice tend to feature more pleasant, less arousing, and less dominant colors, whereas experiential ads tend to be more complex in design.
- The new research encourages designers to aim for increasing the effectiveness of functional advertisements by using more pleasant, less arousing colors, “but not necessarily fewer dominant colors.”
- Design elements should be simple for functional ads.
- As for experiential ads, “designers should use more pleasant colors and more complex designs, even as they are free in their choice of color dominance.”