VCD Theory Purpose
Why are visual communications made differently?
Purposes or reasons for visual communications
A distinction between purpose and function
Model purpose analysis
Demographics are facts about an audience.
To advertise is to present a product or service for the express purpose of sales or financial gain.
Examples of advertisements are;
- multi-media kiosks/ displays,
- post cards,
- magazine ads,
The poster shown at left is intended to advertise apples to increase sales and generate money for the business owner. It uses contrasting colour and simple shapes to attract attention. The purpose of advertising is clear as the message is simple. it is achieved through an image of an apple and type. Hierarchy compliments the purpose as first in the reading order is the apple, followed by the price then finally the caption.
To promote is to present a product, service, idea, concept, belief or ideology for persuasion of an audience for the better of the individual, community or society as a whole. Promotion may be confused with advertising as the techniques are similar. However, the easy way to distinguish is to ask, does the visual communication lead directly to sales and financial gain? If not, it's likely to be promoting something.
Examples of promotional products include;
- political campaign materials,
- Church posters,
- posters to engage audience in social issues,
- flyers to engage audience in healthy eating,
This poster at left is intended to promote apples and the idea that eating them leads to a healthy life. It uses simplified images composed of stylised shapes and bright contrasting colours. It uses the metaphor of love hearts hovering over eyes to show that apples can bring health and happiness when eaten.
To depict is to make an image or model of something. Literally to make a picture of it. Depictions are ofter components in visual communications with other purposes. The illustration itself may have no purpose beyond representing the object it does.
Examples of depictions include;
- freehand illustrations,
- two and three dimensional illustrations - 3rd Angle orthogonal, paraline and perspective drawings,
- digital 3d models,
- video installations,
- model making,
- schematic architectural drawings,
The illustration of an apple is intended to depict this lovely piece of fruit. It uses realistic colours, and stylised shape and tone to indicate form and shade to make it stand off the background.
To teach is to enable a person to learn something. A visual communication with the purpose to teach includes visual and/ or written information that leads to learning about something. To teach may be confused with to guide, and inform. One way to differentiate between these is to ask, does the visual communication explain something by breaking it down? To teach usually involves simplifying information into a sequence or steps.
Examples of teaching products include;
- webpages (like this one),
- magazine and book spreads,
- posters and wall charts,
- post cards,
- digital apps,
- explanatory diagrams.
The wall chart at left is intended to teach someone how to peel, cut and eat slices of apple. It uses simple shapes and colours that contrast well with the background to illustrate the process. Teaching how to peel, cut and eat has been broken down into steps that are easy to understand. Symmetrical balance, contrast and figure-ground have been used to ensure clarity.
To inform is to provide information or facts. As distinct from to teach, to inform does not seek to enable learning but rather to simply communicate information such as a rule, date, event, etc.
Examples of informing products include;
- post cards,
- multi-media kiosk screens,
The image of a calendar page marked with an apple over a date is intended to inform an audience member that this day is significant for apples. Colour has been used to attract attention as the apple is shown in cool colours which contrast sharply with the rest of the illustration which is made in reds and pinks.
To identify is to enable the recognition of an entity. A written and/ or visual mark such as a logo is used to help members of the community recognise a company. The field of branding is a related study where a company seeks to promote its identity through various means.
Examples of identifying products include;
- webpage banner,
- newspaper masthead,
- heraldry and coats of arms,
The presentation at left shows apple logos in context. They have been used to identify a company to members of a target audience. Colour and shape have been used to create simple shapes that contrast with their background and provide instant recognition for this company.
To guide is to provide directions or information where someone will be able to locate something. As distinct from to teach, to guide shows a member of the audience where something is and/ or how to find it in relation to other features. The end goal is location not learning.
Examples of guiding products include;
- websites and webpages,
- interactive multi-media kiosks,
- digital way-finding apps.
The section of a fruit tour map is intended to guide members of a target audience to a place where they can get apples. It uses line, shape and colour to create easy to read roads, a river and fruit shapes.
Try it for yourself
Shown below are seven images of visual communications. Follow the directions in the task panel below them to improve in your understanding and application of purpose.
- Identify the purpose of each of the visual communications above. Give reasons for your answer referring to the images.
- Choose one image and identify one design element and one design principle used with effect to achieve the purpose. Explain how the elements and principles you have identified assist with the purpose.
- Choose another image. Nominate another purpose and explain how it would need to be changed in order for it to suit that new purpose. In your answer refer to design elements and design principles.