Golden Ratio

Golden ratio is a measure that is used to mathematically define good looking art or photographs or any creative work. Numerically, the ratio is equal to 1.618 approximately.

Many aesthetically pleasing creations follow the Golden Ratio.

One might wonder what does aesthetic sense have to do with marketing.

It matters a lot!

Research has shown that our human brains inherently have a liking for all natural designs, photographs and artwork that follow the Golden ratio. It catches the eye more easily and leaves a better impression on the human mind.

Then, as marketers, why not use it to make better and more pleasing designs and thus create better impressions upon the minds of our target segments through campaign artwork?

The Golden ratio has been observed in almost all natural designs, right from animal bodies, to flowers, to the Milky Way galaxy.

Check out some of the images below.

All these images in the gallery above follow the Golden Ratio.

Even the Mona Lisa? Yes! In fact, if you check the works of great architects, you would also see the evidence of the Golden ratio in designs like the Taj Mahal.

To add to it, when one designs products, like cars for example, talented designers follow this rule to give them a better sense of proportions and placements.

So, what is the Golden Ratio?

Lets try to understand the basic principle behind this term.

Two numbers are said to be in the Golden Ratio if the ratio of the larger number to the smaller is equal to the ratio of their sum to the the larger number. This ratio is equal to 1.618

Exhibit 1: Golden Ratio

This can be extended to the Golden Rectangle, wherein the proportion of the areas of the large to the small is equal to that of the sum of the areas to the larger of the areas.

The demo image below should make it clearer for you.

Exhibit 2: Golden Rectangle

The ratio of these areas above is again equal to 1.618. You will need to understand the numbers behind this to be able to grasp it and apply it to design.

The Golden Ratio is closely related to the Fibonacci Sequence.

If you aren’t familiar with the Fibonacci sequence, it goes from 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144 and so on. In this sequence, each number is a sum of the two numbers preceding it. (E.g. 0+1=1, 1+1=2, 1+2=3, 2+3=5, and so on.)

This sequence is seen in most growth patterns in nature and is used to extrapolate natural phenomenons often. For example, if you look at the images above in the gallery, a sunflower usually has 34, 55 or 89 petals on its face. Weird huh?

Similar growth patterns are seen in the growth of branches on trees, or in the shells of snails, or even in hurricanes.

If you represent the Fibonacci numbers in the form of boxes where the side lengths are the numbers in sequence, it will look like the following image.

Exhibit 3: Boxes to represent Fibonacci numbers

Do you see the striking similarity between Exhibit 2 and 3? If you see the ratio of the largest 2 boxes in exhibit 3, it is almost the same as the Golden rectangle. If you go to the higher numbers, i.e., 34, 55, 89, and so on, the ratio gets closer and closer to 1.618.

Amazing phenomenon, isn’t it?

More interestingly, if you connect the opposite corners of the squares with an arc, you would get an arc which looks like the spiral below:

Golden Spiral

Doesn’t it look similar to the shell of a snail? That’s a beautiful design by nature for you, using the Fibonacci series and the Golden ratio. That’s beauty defined by numbers.

Alright, that was the nerdy stuff. Now, lets get the designs and the creative side. How do we use it creatively for the most benefit?

As brand managers and marketers, we get a lot of designs done. The designs must be aesthetically pleasing. The easiest way to do that is to follow the Golden ratio.

Take a look at the Coke poster below. We often look for something called balance in designs. The text, the image and the brand logo should be positioned such that designs don’t look like they are falling apart or out of place, or heavy on one side and light on another.

Do you see how it is applied to the posters above to make them look more balanced and aesthetically more pleasing?

Many creative people might have it in their instincts already, but well, it doesn’t hurt to know why it looks more pleasing: because it follows the Golden ratio.

If you go through some of the logos of famous brands, you will see the ratio being used even there.

These ones listed above in the images are much simpler usages. Many of the famous logos can be broken apart and simplified into the same pattern as the Fibonnaci sequence or the Golden ratio.

The applications are numerous.

So, if you are involved in marketing, you would want to put this knowledge to the best use in getting your creative team to come up with great designs for billboards, posters and social media posts. You would want to create beautiful associations for your brand so that your consumer goes, “Wow!”, at the first glance.