We are conditioned to respond to the controlling missives we receive, and not inconsequentially, by the illustrative and typographic appearance of those missives. Take the everyday act of crossing the street: It is dictated by terse commands—Stop, Go, Cross, Don't Cross. Halt! Whatever the language, the orders are always comprehensible in print. If not the specific words (Berhenti, means stop in Malaysia), or the alphabet (Cyrillic or Chinese), then the colors (like red for stop, yellow for wait, green for go), symbols (flat outstretched hands for stop) and sign shapes are often unmistakable indicators.
Street signs are not the only graphic interventions that impact our behavioral consciousness and subconsciousness. Our lives are filled with typographic and pictorial decrees and warnings designed to either regiment, protect, or otherwise condition the everyday. Short and lengthily worded commands, proclamations, testimonies, and directions have been essential to our hard-wired behavior since signs and symbols were first scratched onto the Lascaux caves. "Watch Out for Wooly Mammoths!"
Designing commands is not, however, the exclusive province of graphic designers. In fact, when words are used to influence behavior, the niceties of typographic design are often sacrificed for the brutish immediacy of pure, untutored expression. Of course, typography is esssential in getting most messages across, and designers are responsible, at the very least, for designing the typefaces, if not also how they are used. It is unlikely that the word STOP would be typeset in a curlicue script—it just doesn't have the authority—but anyone, designer or not, can select a slab serif or bold gothic face to make the word (or statement) scream.
This is how we have organize the book. It is by common actions designed to trigger reactions:
Inform is, informatively, parallel to educate but not exactly the same. It involves tweaking the audience by bringing to light an issue, essence or concern that requires contemplation.
Advocate is, perhaps, the most common of all since designers are often called upon to create messages that rouse an audience to support and therefore engage in an issue or event.
Caution is, doubtless, the most classic graphic design behaviorial message genre. Keep Out, No Tresspassing, Wrong Way, Beware of Dog, and other cautionary missives are designed to insure health and well-being of one and all.
Play is what every design does whether knowingly or not. What is the moving around of word and image but a puzzle or game? This is the essence of the following sections; through play we learn, entertain, express, inform, and transform.
Educate is, in fact, a combination of all the categories here, except specifically it is the rubric under which more detailed knowledge messages are shared.
Entertain is, decidedly, the genre of behaviorial design that everyone enjoys the most. No one is threatened by entertainment, which has various outcomes, but one fundamental goal—to bring enjoyment.
Express is, curiously, the largest growth area for more designers who are using graphically designed words and slogans as a means of expressing personal beliefs, philosophies, and manifestos with the goal of influencing others.
Transform is an overlapping category whereby projects are borne of play but are transformations of what they originally appear to be. These pieces are sly and wicked, using visual puns and graphic manipulation to come in under the preception radar.
Now, READ THIS BOOK! Stop, Think, Go, Do will be available in April 2012.