Design-enabled social change is an essential component of our era. With the rise of sustainability consciousness, millennials are talking about intuitive and immersive experiences, and how these can be made more inclusive. There is no denying that design has had a remarkable impact on businesses, with a plethora of new companies popping up to ride the wave of buzzwords. Communication is often a tool for pushing social change and it’s here that design comes into the picture.
Behavioural change is a very specialised field that needs a strategic and consistent approach. It takes a collective effort of individuals and policymakers to drive social development, and design is a way to make that happen. This can be achieved in multiple ways, from leveraging the power of communities to using design thinking. In the face of public brands, visual challenges and other forms of media, there is a noticeable shift towards the design methodology. Here are a few ways it could be addressed:
Visuals: The science of Neuro-linguistic programming has shown us how visual cues help our brains process information better. Brand symbols, colours, illustrations and other graphics are a great way to grab people’s attention and keep them engaged. Graphics also break the monotony of reports and make them more impactful and easy to process.
Mobile Apps and Web Tools: For a greater reach, web tools and apps are the way to go. From governments to media and research agencies, every stakeholder can use these tools to communicate more effectively and have their message heard. Design considerations for web tools such as user-friendliness, inclusive parlance and impactful visuals are important for successful rounds of communication.
Gamification: Using video games as a tool to encourage learning and behavioural change has become an increasingly popular practice with the gaming industry providing some legitimacy. Smartphone apps and other digital aspects of gaming continue to draw in more users and therefore make for an exciting medium for knowledge sharing and reinforcement of important messages.
Guerrilla Marketing: With cost being a major factor for campaigns, guerrilla marketing has been a popular choice to spread views widely. Twitter and Facebook campaigns have a knack of going viral, leading to greater access and impact in the short-term.
AI Powered Chatbots: AI chatbot platforms provide a smart and efficient method for driving behaviour change and spreading knowledge via various media such as videos, visuals, audio files and more. Here, communication designers can create a platform to successfully convey messages, creating an immersive and inclusive experience for the users.
Comic Books: Comic books, be it in physical or digital formats, are very popular with kids and adults alike. They bridge the gap between entertainment and education, creating a fun and engaging learning platform. With mobile phones now reaching more households, this form of media is increasingly becoming an effective tool for both imparting and enforcing knowledge.
For the company mentioned in the article, it is worth noting that this type of design-driven social change strategy needs disciplined communication and delivery for maximum impact. Since the time Infographics became the norm for annual reports, we have seen an uptick in combining visuals with technology for achieving desired outcomes. Many private and small-brands consider chatbots to be an efficient tool, while some forward-thinking companies have launched initiatives towards sustainability and circular economy; all of which are results of the nature of design articulation.
As for the person mentioned in the article, it is evident that the 13 years of working as a professional designer has made a lasting impression. This individual’s drive to improve the industry and focus on sustainability, behaviour change and design thinking have greatly influenced today’s public climate. The fact that more and more companies are realising this potential and making it their mission to serve social causes is a very heartening sign for everyone.
Design-enabled social change can be a powerful tool when done right, and this article lays down some paths to pursue such efforts. With the emergence of new technologies and platforms, there is an opportunity to evolve design and communication practices. By leveraging behavioural change, visuals, web tools, gamification, guerrilla marketing and AI-powered chatbots, there is an increased chance of seeing significant social change.