Diagonals in photos: styling for neuromarketing

Here’s why you should create diagonals in photos with props, or use natural ones that exist already in the subject. ⁠⠀

Why use diagonals in photos?

Diagonals make our brains think of change, or moving from one state to another.

We’re used to seeing diagonals in graphs, so the implications of the direction of slope stick with us. ⁠⠀

product styling clothing

If you’re a product stylist, you can use this trick of creating diagonals. The slope direction depends on what kind of impression you want to make on your viewers’ brains. ⁠⠀

Let me show you what I mean …

What does our brain see in upwards diagonals?⁠⠀

╱ Upwards diagonals (rising left to right) are all about activity and increase.

This kind of upward slope suggests movement and energy to your brain.⁠⠀

upwards diagonals product styling

If you’re styling a coffee photoshoot, or sports products, you’re better using upwards diagonals.⁠⠀

So many famous brands use logos with upward diagonals.

Especially ones that are all about activity. ⁠⠀


✔️Nike swoosh
✔️Adidas
✔️Helly Hansen
✔️NASA


Pringles does it. So does Schweppes. ⠀

food styling
Diagonals also work for food styling

What does our brain see in downwards diagonals?⁠

╲ Downward diagonals (falling left to right) suggest decrease or relaxation.

downwards diagonals in photos

Photographs with downward diagonals are more likely to suggest ease over effort. Which is exactly what a photograph of a garden should do, for example.⁠ Or a product intended for self-care and relaxation.⠀

Wellbeing products or relaxation brands should try the downward diagonal, as it suggests ease and relaxation to our brains.⁠⠀
⁠⠀

Case studies: diagonals in photos and neuromarketing

⁠Here are some intriguing examples of upwards diagonals, including two of my favourites – Tour de France and the London Symphony Orchestra. Can you spot the person in each of the logos?

Health and beauty brand Neom serves up the downwards diagonal really effectively in their product styling.⁠⠀


⁠Top takeaway – to make your viewer feel …⁠⠀


★ Energised – ↗️ diagonal up⁠

If you want your photos to suggest movement and energy, include upward diagonal shapes.


★ Relaxed – slope down⁠ ↘️

If you want your photos to suggest ease and relaxation, include downward diagonal shapes.


Challenge – diagonals in photos

Look at the packaging/branding around you and see if you find any logos or styling that slopes downwards.⁠

It’s so rare.

You’ll see plenty of upwards diagonals in branding, and very few pointing down.

Qantas does it, but sometimes they show their logo the “wrong” way round, so that it slopes up.⁠ Bet there’s been some boardroom branding debate about that.⁠

I bet the ratio of upwards to downwards diagonals you find is at least 9:1

If you find this neuromarketing takeaway useful, read more.

Or follow @virtualgolddust on Instagram, where I share bitesized marketing tips.

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