Graphic design has the power to really influence people and their behaviour. This has perhaps been seen most prominently during both World Wars, where design was used as a powerful tool to elicit both emotional and behavioural responses in society.
We’re all familiar with the striking ‘Lord Kitchener Wants You’ WWI recruitment poster, created by graphic designer Alfred Leete. These types of recruitment posters have been widely recognised as the driving force to encourage men across the country to enlist in the army. September 1914 saw record numbers enlist, with over 400,000 new volunteers, which coincided with the release of Leete’s iconic poster.
During WWII, graphic design was widely used for propaganda purposes – to demonise the ‘enemy’ and rally support for each country’s cause. There was also a raft of posters designed to influence the behaviour of the general public, telling them what they should and shouldn’t do to help contribute to the ‘war effort’. Many of these designs have become iconic, such as “Keep calm and carry on” and “Dig for victory”.