I read an article on Design Shack written by designer and photographer, Joshua Johnson about how stereotyping could be helpful to design, the differences presented by masculine and feminine typography, and other important factors when determining a target audience. I was intrigued by his breakdown of type and design in terms of evaluation of patterns and characteristics. Johnson believes, “hitting a target audience often means leveraging some stereotypes.” He explains that , “colors, concepts, and typefaces all exist on a continuum. Often there is a clear masculine or feminine aspect to a design that defines its audience, although, there are many examples where a design lies somewhere in between the two.” Your job as a designer is to determine what you are trying to communicate and what elements you will include to influence your audience. A neutral state could possible be the best solution for the design you are creating so you can reach a larger, not gender specific audience, but appeal does not work in one finite way. Neutral is not always as strong of an appeal.
Many times we begin our design process with stereotypes as observations so we can better understand what a client wants. I liked Joshua Johnson’s example as he compares his design for Cesar dog food and Pedigree, pointing out that the designer should consider the kind of people who will most likely buy this food. He states many implications about the consumers due to their interest in a product and possible reasons behind their choices. Stereotypes are not always correct, but today there are so many types of studies about trends through media use and this can create a more accurate view of what certain groups of people are attracted to aesthetically.
We must define our purpose and then ask, is the design meant to attract a specific group or resonate with a much larger audience? Questions are key when talking to clients about who their message should target. The answers to these questions should affect your design before you begin to sketch out a single idea. It’s about achieving a set of goals and appealing to specific types of people. This should be reflected in your headline copy, typefaces, color schemes, imagery, etc.