Wednesday, 30 September 2009
Talk to me
Writing about the language used in Timmy Time reminded me of an article I had read in September’s Creative Review by Gordon Comstock on the new chatty language used in design. He warns:
“Thanks to Innocent, chatty label copy has become ubiquitous. But imitators beware: it’s not so easy”
Comstock talks of the language of the label, the ‘use by’ the ‘serving suggestion’ and the ‘best before’, things that designers know, the stables to packaging design. But now, with this chatty style, a bottle says “hello”, “how you doing?”, the rules of packaging language have changed, and designers scramble to stay in touch with this new informal style as addressing the audience. Malmaison does it, Innocent definitely does it, filling labels with irony with chatty anecdotes. This certainly works for their brands, but what does it mean for the rest of design?
I for example don’t want medicine chatting to me before I take it. I want it to tell me, to instruct. Not to make me laugh, but is this the era of packaging we are being led into?
Though medicine is an extreme example, and I am fairly confident that it’s tone of voice will remain authoritarian for ever more, it is true that more and more brands are trying to engage us in conversation, a quick trip down a supermarket isle and your having half a dozen conversations with your cereal, your milk and your juice. Though this style suits many brands it is often my opinion that quieter is better. Just give me the information I need. But then again I am the type of person, who does not want to talk to the hairdresser as they chop away, and instead am happy in the comfort of knowing I am not involved in idle chatter which both of us don’t really want to be engaged in.