The Power of Visceral thinking • Daniel Clarke

June 17, 2015

Recently, Spotify did the unthinkable. With one foul swoop they caused a mini twitter storm by changing the colour of the green in their logo.

The Next Web covers this and includes all of the entertaining and intriguing responses from users of the app. Some are confused, some are upset but regardless of their response it has become a hot topic.

But why did this cause such a storm and what harm or benefit could this cause the Spotify brand? In my opinion, it all comes down to our visceral response.

What is Visceral Response?

Paul MacLean formulated the ‘Triune Brain’ model in the 1960’s. This model separates the human brain in to 3 main areas:

  • Reptilian (The first area of the brain to develop and common in the majority of life on our planet)
  • Paleomammalian (The limbic system, controlling emotion, behaviour and many other things)
  • Neomammalian (humans ability to perceive and communicate with complex language)

It is the Reptilian brain that is responsible for our visceral response to objects based on how they appear. This helps us to distinguish dangerous elements of our world and identify things that can benefit us, a juicy looking fruit for example.

Modern marketing makes strong use of our visceral responses, targeting our core needs to eat, drink and reproduce; it tends to work well! I dare say that the beautiful design of apple products is one of the driving factors as to why apple is so profitable.

Of course, products don’t only sell based on their visceral appeal. After purchase or use of a service we are likely to reflect on our decision and if the product does not support our initial visceral impressions, then we are likely to change our opinion on it. Who of us hasn’t bought a piece of clothing online because it looked great and then re-evaluated our purchase once we’ve received it because it does not quite meet our expectations?

Hey everyone look at me

So how has the new Spotify logo affected our visceral response to Spotify? Well for one, we don’t tend to respond well to change so that accounts for some of the furor but it’s more than that.

The previous Spotify logo used a ‘softer’ green with a subtle gradient, it was warm and unimposing.

Compare that with the new flat logo and we have stark contrast between the black border and what I have come to call radioactive green. In the image below we can see how this helps differentiate it from other apps whom use green as their brand colour (there are far more than those shown, including native iOS apps).

The new kid on the block

Standing out from your competitors among an ocean of apps on a phone screen is important, but I don’t believe that to be the only (or main) reason that Spotify made this change.

You see, apple made a little announcement recently. The release of apple music could prove to be serious competition for Spotify and undoubtedly they will be watching it’s uptake closely and already planning their response.

In fact, the first strike has already occurred, regardless of your (or the internet’s) opinion on the new logo there is one clear outcome; the internet is talking about Spotify rather than apple music.

Originally published at

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