Is Spotify Wrapped a design disaster or master stroke?
By Trung Phan
PLUS: The funniest memes and tweets around the annual Spotify tradition.
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Today, we’re talking about Spotify Wrapped.
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Ok, everyone has had more than a week to digest Spotify Wrapped, the streaming platform’s year-end summary of your listening habits.
Wrapped perfectly dovetails with our desire to signal “taste” and overshare on social media. It might also be some wild corporate jujitsu (but we won’t get into that).
Rather, let’s discuss Wrapped’s design aesthetic: the good, the bad and the memes.
The Good: Colors
Ever notice how red is super popular among fast food restaurant logos?
Apparently, the sight of red can stimulate your heart rate and increase your appetite. The color also carries emotional associations like excitement and danger.
I can’t speak to the science, but I do know that I was driving yesterday and — completely unplanned — ended up smashing 2 Big Macs after passing a McDonald’s billboard.
The design team at Spotify also uses color psychology per designer Dheeraj Nanduri. Specifically, Wrapped visuals have “uncommon shades of traditional colours” which “convey excess, fun, and frivolity”.
As shown in the table above, Spotify Green and Spotify Pink are “nestled in between the commonly observed colours and the eye-disturbing neon colours.”
These colours grab your attention and signal fun without the emotional triggers (like the urge to smash a burger). Smart choice.
The Bad: Font
Wrapped’s color psychology makes sense to me. This year, though, Spotify is taking major heat for its font selection.
Specifically, around how it displays “Your Top Genres”:
The vertical letters are virtually illegible when you get to the bottom of the list (we can’t knock the color, though…check out that uncommon shade of pink!).
A Twitter search of “Spotify Wrapped font” returns a lot of salty tweets:
The font issue made it to the top of the r/GraphicDesign subreddit and some interesting points were made:
If you tip your screen down, the font reads kind of normal (lol)
The font look is called brutalism
There’s actual legible labels to the right of the bar (so the shitty font inside the bar doesn’t really matter)
Apparently ugly and warped fonts are a trend in Estonia right now (which — according to Google Maps — is only a 52 hour walk from Sweden, where Spotify is from)
It looks like a bar code
But here’s the most important Reddit response
The design head behind Wrapped has a team of 15-20 people and they start planning the year-end drop from June. OF COURSE they knew what they were doing.
The ugly font is def intentional and got us all talking. #10DChess
So, is Spotify Wrapped’s design good or bad? I’m defaulting to one variable: does it create good memes.
The Wrapped template is perfectly constructed to birth hysterical jokes. Even though it’s the same 4 memes ever year, they never get old:
Meme format #1: What if [company X] did Wrapped?
Meme format #2: “Honest” Spotify Wrapped results
Meme format #3: Apple Music vs. Spotify
The response from Apple Music users is pretty amusing:
The response from YouTube Music listeners is VERY amusing:
Meme format #4: “Look how eclectic my playlist is”
BONUS: Here’s a free multi-trillion dollar dating app idea.