Artemy Lebedev

§ 137. Emotion matrix

October 12, 2006

Anyone can easily tell where is up and where is down.

And most would agree that forward faces right while back looks left. This is supported by the direction of western writing and clock hand motion (the idea originated in the Northern Hemisphere). Many feel the same thinking about their progress in life.

Let us join together these four directions adding their vector sums to form a scheme with 8 directional rays.

No parallels should be drawn between this and parts of the world, because different nations perceive the world differently—for a Mongolian forward means heading south while for a person from the European part of Russia south is situated lower down in the Crimea’s direction (and not towards Cuba).

According to our scheme, the sum of the up and forward vectors points to the right upper corner. This is the most “positive” moving direction in the 2-dimensional space. Its opposite is therefore the most “negative” direction. So, heading towards the left upper corner may be seen as going astray even though it is an upward movement. And the moving towards the right lower corners is thus the way to failure. If an object is put in the center, it is, as a rule, neutral and supports symmetry of the composition.

Here is the complete emotion matrix.

However, there is a but—this matrix must not be used universally, as there are many exceptions and specifics. Say, we put a corporate logo at the bottom right of the page, like it is done in eight out of ten cases. This does not imply any negativeness. Firstly, there may be several compositions on a page. Secondly, not all of the objects are part of the composition. Thirdly, static objects cannot follow the rules defined by this matrix (it is the case other matrixes should be used, but that’s a whole different story).

We know, of course, of how keen businessmen are to tell everyone in all imaginable ways about their achievements and standing. They do it with the help of various advertising agencies and design studios. Primitive-level conception includes notions that bold type signifies reliability, that text that occupies all of the given space attracts more attention than the one that doesn’t, that uppercase letters are more meaningful than lower case and so on. Those deluded by it belong to the ‘low resolution’ category (see ยง132). At a higher level, other instruments are used to achive the right effect.

So, now we are going to try and apply carefully (as to stay reasonable) the principles of the emotion matrix to two logos—one belonging to a Russian oil company, and the other to a foreign corporation in the same industry.

YUKOS’s logo is torn apart by two opposite vectors. Even though the white diagonal lines seem to be pointing in the positive direction, their spirit is suppressed by the yellow triangle, which is just about to slide down from the top. The logo was apparently based on “the only intrinsically stable polygon”, but the very idea is ruined with the sharp angles of all three triangles pointing downwards. It is such a shivery construction that even bold uppercase letters fail to keep it strong.

BP’s logo is the exact opposite. We see a symmetrical, tranquil, extravert, sunny-flowery composition. The two key rays point straight at the two lowercase letters of the company’s name. This is an example of dynamics combined with immense tranquility.

Looking at the two, any viewer feels the difference—the first logo is kicking the bucket, while the second one blossoms brightly and confidently.

I’ll bet anything that once MiG, a Russian aircraft building corporation, is back on the road and in the sky, they will adopt a new logo making the bird fly “positively” and with letters no longer tilted left (which is completely unnatural).

And now, let’s take a walk outside and see how the emotions matrix works when used by those with a professional approach to influencing customers’ desires.

Kuznetsky Most, Moscow, 2006.

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