January 4, 2019

Food for Thought

The design of Tabasco’s bottle hasn’t changed much since its first bottle produced in 1868. The logo itself, however, did change. It was originally oriented conventionally to the square label but was affixed to the bottle at a 45-degree angle. It’s possible that it was not the designer who decided to rotate the whole label, but what makes their brand iconic is the diamond shape created by the rotation.

This is an elementary example of “critical thinking.” Most designers would start from the assumption that they would be designing what goes within the square label; they wouldn’t question the rotation of the label itself.

One time on Facebook, I was debating about what “critical thinking” is, and was surprised to learn that most people thought it’s just “thinking hard.” They didn’t think of it as a different type of thinking. If critical thinking is just about thinking hard, we wouldn’t need the term; it would just be “thinking” in varying degrees.

Critical thinking involves questioning of our assumptions. For instance, in the early part of the 20th century, an analytical thinker may have thought about how to efficiently divide the responsibilities between men and women, while a critical thinker would have questioned why gender must be the criteria by which we divide responsibilities.

No matter how hard you think about something, if you are not asking the right question, you are not thinking critically. In this sense, critical thinking isn’t exactly “thinking” but an ability to ask meaningful questions. Conventional thinking starts only AFTER the question is presented. Critical thinking starts BEFORE.

And, critical thinking isn’t just about big ideas; it can be applied to trivial things like the label of a hot sauce.

#tabasco #hotsauce #graphicdesign #branding #criticalthinking