How Neuro Design Is Shaping Pop Culture

Posted on June 7, 2018 | Updated on November 14, 2022

Neuro design is a concept that applies our knowledge of the cognitive function of the human brain to design principles and uses it to create something new and exciting. Neuro design pulls from research on human vision and the psychology behind vision. Some brands even conduct proprietary research studies to figure out the best way to reach out to consumers via designs.

It’s difficult to pinpoint what makes someone prefer one design over another. Scientists have discovered we know what we like when we see it, but we don’t always understand why. Some of the differences are so subtle, only an experienced designer can grasp the difference between design A and B.

Neuro design infiltrates into nearly any type of marketing or design work, even if the designer only considers some aspects of how the design impacts the human brain. Here are some ways neuro design is shaping pop culture and the designs we see on a daily basis.

1. Color

Color is one of the first things the brain processes when it looks at something. One of the factors you need to consider is how a pop of color draws the eye, particularly if there is a lot of contrast with other elements surrounding the item. If you have a product on the store shelf, you want users to see that product first.

At the same time, however, if the color doesn’t match the expectations for that type of product, consumers may feel reluctant to try it. For example, let’s say you’ve created an eco-friendly home cleaning product. People would expect to see green somewhere on the label to indicate nature and green living. If you use neon pink, the product will stand out, but since neon pink is not a color we often see in nature, it might turn consumers off.

2. Form

Form comes down to the shape of the design, as well as the symmetry. This element of neuro design impacts our culture in several ways. Studies show the human brain is drawn to patterns, particularly geometric ones. Designers often hide these patterns in the design, because the brain can sense them on a subconscious level.

You can see the impact of this type of design focus in elements such as the Twitter logo. Even though you don’t outright see the geometric patterns, the designers set up the layout of the logo on a circular grip that creates a natural flow. You won’t see this if you just look at the symbol, but if you begin to draw circles around its edges and points, you will start to see the pattern. Your brain unconsciously notices this.

3. Emotional Connection

Your brain is hardwired to focus on making sure you not only survive, but thrive. Because of this, including elements such as the word “you” enhances designs and marketing. Also, you can make an emotional connection with the reader by using images, which the brain processes more rapidly than text.

There’s a reason you often see various shades of blue in company logos and branding materials. Not only do many people like the color blue, but they see it as trustworthy — which is why so many banks and financial institutions use it. Facebook is another good example of a company that uses blue in their logo. Even though younger generations are hopping over to Instagram, people are keeping their Facebook accounts to stay connected with family and friends.

4. Simplicity

You might think creating a complicated design would help you attract a wider audience, but studies don’t back up this thought. The human brain is better at processing simple designs. If someone can look at a logo or image and immediately understand the meaning behind it, they can move on to appreciating other elements on your page.

There is a term for how easily our brains can process an image: “processing fluency.” You’ll notice many brands using clean, stripped-down logos, because those instantly recognizable symbols are attractive to the human brain. For example, think about brands such as Apple or Target and how simple their logos are.

5. Curved Patterns

People feel more drawn to patterns with curves, which our brain prefers over squares or triangles. If you want to appeal to consumers over other brands, keep this in mind. In a situation where your branding is side by side with that of competitors, little things, such as a curved logo, can give you an edge.

You’ve likely noticed curved patterns have infiltrated every aspect of society. Think about political campaigns and the logos involved in those, or even in architecture such as the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain.

6. Left-to-Right Reading

In the United States, and many other countries, people read from left to right. The human brain naturally gravitates to the left. If you are trying to reach readers in a country that reads left to right, you should also place the most essential elements in your design on the left side of the page.

This principle impacts much of our world. Think about the last time you went to a concert, for example. If the musician had banners or digital graphics in the background, elements likely started on the left and filled the rest of the screen. People just have a natural tendency to look left first.

Neuro Design in the Future

Neuro design focuses on the unconscious reactions people have to images and overall patterns of design. Applying principles from psychology and science allows designers to reach users on a deeper level. As scientists do more research on how we process images and the emotional connections to different factors, design will advance by leaps and bounds. Applying neuroscience to your designs is a smart move that will allow you to reach consumers more fully.

About The Author

Eleanor Hecks is the Editor-in-Chief of Designerly Magazine, an online publication dedicated to providing in-depth content from the design and marketing industries. When she's not designing or writing code, you can find her exploring the outdoors with her husband and dog in their RV, burning calories at a local Zumba class, or curled up with a good book with her cats Gem and Cali.

You can find more of Eleanor's work at

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