Toilet paper trucks

05/05/2010

I saw a Tweet yesterday that made me smile and think at the same time (a dangerous combination). Jamie‘s son asked if the logo on the side of a truck indicated that it was a toilet paper truck.

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Click to see what Jamie's son saw

Later that day, I had a great conversation with a graphic designer at a coffee shop who was working on an amazingly ornate digital tire tread for a client logo and she asked for my feedback.

I explained that it was beautiful and appreciated the attention to detail, but because the tire looked nothing like a standard tread (it was purple and paisley) I didn’t recognize it as a tire. There was no context.

We chatted about some ways to provide traditional visual cues for people, but the lesson is this: we use what we know to understand what we don’t. Jamie’s son saw toiletpaper instead of a Publix logo. I saw an amorphous (although beautiful) pattern instead of a tire tread.

What could an objective set of eyes tell you about the message you’re sending? It might be obvious to you, but to me…