Having several years experience in design, I am sometimes asked what type of graphics, images, or colors are more appealing to Hispanic audiences. I have found this to be a challenging question. Because Latino audiences are so varied and diverse in their cultures, nationalities, and acculturation, it is difficult to suggest there are specific visual preferences that have widespread Hispanic appeal. Relying too much on traditional images like sombreros, maracas, tacos, or colorful dress, may promote stereotypes and have a negative effect on marketing and promotions. As designers, we believe visual communication needs to deliver value based on subjective and empathetic insights about an audience’s beliefs and attitudes.
The truth is, appropriate visual communication can deliver tremendous value. I once designed a poster to promote an event that celebrated the Mexican holiday of dia de los muertos (see image). The poster ended up appealing to many attendees and I received several requests from those interested in obtaining one. Obviously the cultural significance of the poster’s design and images delivered value for many patrons.
So, shouldn’t there be visual or artistic elements with particular appeal to Latinos? Even though subjective insights do offer the most depth for connecting to Hispanics, are there particular visual elements that may also have strong appeal? Can these provide guidance for marketers and designers seeking to connect with Latino audiences?
“Even though subjective insights do offer the most depth for connecting to Hispanics, are there particular visual elements that may also have strong appeal?”
Color is always a popular topic and there is research to suggest particular colors hold value for cultures and nationalities throughout the world. The London based design firm Information is Beautiful created a comprehensive infographic that shows how various colors indicate feelings, emotions, or concepts for different cultures around the world. It is interesting to see how many cultures use the color red to signify passion or white to signify truce.
“Color is always a popular topic and there is research to suggest particular colors hold value for cultures and nationalities throughout the world.”
Closer to the realm of marketing, the blog ¿Ask Marivi? explores topics related to graphic design and packaging for Latino appeal. Based on personal observations, ¿Ask Marivi? offers insights from the perspectives of designers that work in marketing to Latinos. The blog has found many connections to Latino audiences and how graphics are perceived. In one notable example, the issue of literacy discussed. Many Latino consumers typically arrive to the U.S. with lower levels of literacy and may be less likely to find or ask for products by name. They may be more apt to recognize a product by colors on the packaging, or a particular character or mascot on the label.
One of my favorite designers working for Latino audiences today is Luis Fitch, owner of the Minneapolis based branding firm Uno. Mr. Fitch utilizes an ethnographic process called “filtros” where design strategy is determined through “filters” based on a consumer’s country of origin, level of acculturation, and level of economic acculturation among others. At the 2008 AIGA Business and Design Conference, Fitch gave a presentation that delved into the details his “filtros” strategy. Among the examples of work he showcased were branding campaigns for Target that assisted the retail giant in connecting with Latino consumers. In 2006, the magazine Graphic Design USA touted Luis Fitch as one of the “people to watch”. I couldn’t agree more.
Unfortunately, with the exception of the examples above, I don’t believe the topic of design for Latino appeal has garnered enough widespread discussion. Perhaps now, with the explosion of Hispanic populations in the U.S., a valuable discourse is due. However, I still maintain that visual communication should focus on value based strategies versus familiar or (shudder) stereotypical images. Yes, I have no doubt certain colors or images may be trend worthy and relevant specifically to Latino populations, but like all good design, an empathetic understanding of your audience will always carry the most merit.
The featured guest post was written by the talented Jonathan Barrera Mikulich of www.Latinobrandingpower.com