Low voltage

Posted by on Aug 14, 2009 in Branding, Messaging
Low voltage

Design should help tell your story. But here’s a case where a “clever” design gets in the way. Take a look at the banner that accompanied Tuesday’s announcement of Chevy Volt’s miles-per-gallon number. If you didn’t read the news story (or hadn’t encountered any of the reportedly annoying “What is 230?” viral ads), what would your first impression be?

Mine was: “23 mpg, plug it in.”

Sure, creating a little mystery as a way to get buzz can be effective. United Airlines did a good job of that with their launch of TED. But here’s a case where the mystery–or miscommunication–is embedded in the design itself.

Does an electrical outlet really “read” as a zero? And now that the design is out there without the clarifying “What is 230?” words, will more people read it the way I did?

230 mpg is an impressive statistic. (Even if it is misleading.)
23 mpg isn’t.

In isolation, this design just short circuits itself.