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Kawaii? Say what?  – You might respond. And what’s up with the puppy?

Don’t worry – it all makes sense. I’m only trying to make you feel better.

Kawaii is japanese and it means cute. And the concept of cuteness is an essential part of japanese culture. Originally kawaii is referring to the image of a radiant og blushing face. And can also be translated into:  to be loved.

The icon of cuteness is Hello Kitty – and this year she has been 40 years in the business of kawaii! And she stronger than ever – because of her cuteness. Looking at Kitty (or other kawaii images) makes you feel good.

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But why is all this talk about kawaii relevant in this context?

If you take a look over the landscape of brand characters you will meet cuteness everywhere. It is often the very essence of characterdesign. But why?

Cute things produce positive feelings

The tenderness elicited by cute images is more than just a positive feeling state. It can make people more physically tender in in their motor behavior and narrows attentional focus

Nittono, H. et al.: The Power of kawaii, PLoS one 2012

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A immensely cute brand character is Danbo. He represents Amazon – he isa  sort of robot made from the company’s delivery boxes.

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Or Zendiums toothpaste’s new characters called Zymerne

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Or Yummo Yogurts penguin

When is something percieved to be cute?

Cute objects are assumed to be characterized by baby schema: A large head relative to the body size, a high and protruding forehead and large eyes.

This idea that cuteness in babies is a part of evolution that ensures that adults take care of their children was first described by the austrian zoologist Konrad Lorenz in the 1970’s

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 If a picture wasn’t going very well, I’d put a puppy in it.

Norman Rockwell

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