The Power of Cute

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I recently was buying chocolate (no diet advice, please) and I noticed that there is a huge amount of miniature sweets available. I reached out for a mini Toblerone without thinking, then put it back when I realised that I was buying it only because of its diminutive size.

Many people in the UK like miniature things, and brands are catching on. An obvious reason is that these small packages cost less, although when you compare the cost per unit size they generally cost quite a bit more for the same amounts. This phenomenon is something that I call the power of cute. Like kittens and babies, we are drawn to small things simply because they are cuter.

Mini products tend to sell better than larger ones, and we are not just talking about sweets here. This effect is so powerful that I predict it will become one of the major branding and marketing trends of the future. Consider: we are not intimidated by small products. In fact, we are inclined to love them. We are charmed by them. This is likely the reason that people prefer icons on their desktop or smartphone screen rather than text. Knowing this and using it can be a huge marketing advantage.

As an example, consider the success of the Australian software start-up Wotch.com. This company recently introduced a mini-browser, which basically does the same things as a normal browser but in miniature format. Just a year later, more than half a million people have the program and are downloading mini-apps that are simply smaller versions of existing ones. The number of consumers is astounding when you consider that the customers are paying simply for a smaller version of products they already own. The cute factor is the only selling point.

Micro sites are also becoming popular. Again, small equals approachable and nonthreatening. That may not be a value proposition in itself, but it appeals to many markets nonetheless. There is no real reason or rationale, but it works. The only explanation is that we are just drawn to small things.

No one understands cute marketing and branding better than the Japanese. Cute is a major factor in Japanese marketing. This trend appears to be spreading to other parts of the globe, a fact that UK logo designers should take into account. Mini-branding may be the marketing wave of the future.

This brings up a new issue for UK small business owners. How can you incorporate the cute factor into your own business? If you are selling products, smaller versions may be a possible way for your company to expand. If you are trying to market to a new audience, then less may indeed be more. There are even ways of making a logo design cuter—less words and more images, using more rounded lines, lower case fonts etc.

Before you run out to get a cute logo design of your own, there are a few things to consider. While your business may stand to benefit from a small scale product or icon, that does not mean that ‘cute’ would be a good representative of your business as a whole. Indeed, as with all fads, this is a style that should be approached with caution.