Marketing and Laundry Labels

Laundry symbols with japanese

Have you ever taken a good look at clothing care labels?  A friend posted a funny version which was just a meaningless string of symbols, then the words, “or just ask your mom, she knows.”

This got me thinking.

Those labels are broken

Apparently, all those symbols represent a full page of different clothing instructions – water temp, dryer settings, whether to use bleach (or not) and on and on.  The trouble is, that the symbols are not intuitive.  They make no sense unless you have a long ‘cheat sheet’ to crack the secret clothing care code.

I wonder how many garments have been ruined because buyers couldn’t figure out how to care for them. Those labels are there because the FTC requires them. Apparently, there was no requirement that they be understandable (though the FTC is seeking new comments).

Instead of those silly symbols nobody can understand, why not either a) get better symbols (get input from Apple’s designers) or b) write it out in words.

Even worse, I just bought something which has a label with pale gray symbols on a black background.  It’s nearly impossible to see the symbols, let alone figure out what they are.

The same thing can happen with marketing or client communication efforts.  You’re busy focusing on code and using terms like UX and UI.  You’re talking about decision trees and canonical URLs and how critical it is to SEO.

Your client’s head is spinning around. They know you’re saying something important, but they’re not quite sure what it is.  They also aren’t sure why it matters or how it affects their business.

Have you had this experience?  Tried to talk to someone who was speaking in symbols instead of plain English?  Or have you done it yourself?