Designing for Male vs Female Target Customers

Often one of the most obvious elements in planning the design of your brand can be missed or forgotten about. When planning the construct of your logo or brand identity, your target customer must be taken into account. If you have a pre-dominance of male or female customers – here are some things for you to think about.

Fundamentally, after all is said and done, men and women see things differently. The crucial fact is that we have quintessentially different brains. This affects how we detect and translate colours; what factors/details we pay attention to; and even the priorities we give to things in our environment.


This is a question I have put to many a client when I can see that there is a distinct need to look at the overall positioning of their brand to their target audiences. If, however you may think “well, actually, I have an even spread of customers who are male or female, and no real majority either way.” That’s absolutely fine – as long as you KNOW this for sure. This information just gives your designer a good idea of where to start with planning your design.

Dermalogica branding

You can market uniformly – however this should only be done where it’s strictly necessary and well planned out. An example is that of Dermalogica’s branding – a simple, uniform, clean and neutral design.

Did you know that only 15% of our decision-making is conscious, and 85% is subconscious? And…men and women react differently to those subconscious messages. We can use design to take advantage of that.


Women, in general are better at discriminating between colours (e.g. rose, magenta, burgundy) – where as men are better at tracking fast moving objects and discerning detail from a distance.

Here are a few points to help paint a picture of the differences in how design is perceived by men vs women:

Dove comparison

Ladies want: Stories, Details, Design

  1. Women want visuals that remind them of themselves on their best day

Whether it’s a house, a car, or a model. They want to be accepted: they buy from people who know how they live. They don’t have time for aspiring    to future perfection that they can never reach.

  1. Women want stories that draw them in – to connect with them

Women need to know more. This means…give them more content. Give ladies concrete details so they can relate – so when they see or hear about Suzie’s problem that your product or service solved (for example), they can look for a resonance to their own issues. Connect and you’ve got a customer.

  1. Women want value now and over time

If women don’t see value on the first page of a leaflet or brochure, you have lost them. If they do see that value straight away then they’ll read more…

  1. Women love to share with others

Women see word-of-mouth as a way to help the friend they are talking to and not as a promotion for the business they are talking about. Get personal (or connected in how you relate) with women, and they’ll chat about you. Remember the details – their kids; dog; favorite charity; etc. If you really want their help spreading the word, give them little touches that are worth discussing, and make sure they know that your business (or your client’s) can solve their friends’ problems, too.

The design details for ladies:

Women have a larger, more elaborate colour vocabulary than men do. This then translates in to how we blend design principles for them:

  • Use more feminine fonts / typesets
  • Look at how you pair fonts with colours and font types. Match these or you could have a discord in word meaning and inferences like:
Font vs Word vs Colour
  • Layout of design is important – for ladies keep with a balanced used of images, colours and images that appeal to women (in general – this may mean softer colours and handscript fonts)

Men want: Proof, Immediacy, Ambition

  1. Men want visuals they can aspire to

Why do you think sex sells? Men are looking to the future and in that future ‘she’ll be winking his way’. Show that you understand their unique ambitions. Appeal to their sense of adventure and exploration in real life and online (climbing mountains, agility in sport, snowboarding).

  1. Men want proof – pure and simple

If you can say that 100,000 people per year use your product or service – great! If 52 people a day give you a call, you might not mention that they don’t all end up buying. If numbers are not in your favor, then go for testimonials. Prove that others like what you’ve got, whether on a package design, an ad, or a brochure.

  1. Men make purchases now, for their now needs.

In a nutshell: itch = scratch. Sell to a man quickly, visually, with benefits that provide the ideal solution.

  1. Men love bragging

Make your business remarkable, because men don’t give recommendations as easily as women. Remember their family, their hometown team, or their hobby. Exceed their expectations and you’ll stand out from the crowd.

  1. Men have a concentrated focus

If you’re targeting men – don’t bother with bits of information down the side or your advert or magazine (or website), they just won’t see it!

The design details for men:

  • Use more bold fonts / typesets, and
  • Keep layout and colours simple and solid. Men (in general) are more drawn to dark colours, geometric shapes, rigid layouts and block-type fonts

I’m sure you may be asking: what if I appeal to both men and women (or worse, you are saying the dreaded: ’everyone’ word). My answer to that would be…are you?

It’s a very interesting exercise to properly evaluate your market and who you are wanting to reach – because your design could be hampering your ability to reach them successfully.

There are elements to your marketing collateral that you could be honing the design of, to better appeal to exactly who you want to take action from it.

Got a question? Please do drop it below in the comments and I’d be happy to answer them.