What is behaviour-led design?

What is behaviour-led design and how does it help us to create stand-out creative work that, really, well, works?

The easiest way to describe behavioural-led design is where behavioural science meets creativity. An exciting elixir of art and science bubbling together, keeping creatives on their toes and inspiring truly impactful design and copy.

In the industry it can be used to describe any behavioural thinking applied to creative work. But, as everything we do is about creativity informed by behavioural science, we’ve taken it one step further. 

We’ve developed our very own method for crafting behavioural-led creative work. We call it BeBoLD.

How it works 

BeBoLD is our unique approach to behaviour-led design based on three principles: salience, cognitive ease and brand heuristics.

It’s the helping hand that makes our work more behaviourally influential and distinctive – making it easier for consumers to engage with and act on. Nothing leaves the agency without the magic of this applied thinking. 

And it really helps us get rid of the pesky subjectivity that oh so often plagues sign-off processes and prevents truly effective communication. 

BeBoLD in action

When applying BeBoLD we ask ourselves three critical questions to create the most effective creative solution with behavioural science.

COGNITIVE EASE:  Is the communication easy to understand?

SALIENCE:  Is the eye drawn to the most important part – whether that’s visual or language?

HEURISTICS: Have we leveraged the brand’s unique heuristics to make sure we’re continuously triggering connections

BeBoLD model principles

Here’s a bit more about those three guiding principles of Be BoLd:

Monzo cognitive ease

Cognitive ease

The easier something is for us to process, the more likely we are to engage with it. Just think back to that lengthy online form, or huge pile of post to sort through that felt like just that bit too much. We've all been there. Cognitive ease can be bolstered by chunking information, using colour coding or even by just using the right photography and language to build familiarity. Monzo are a great example of a brand that keeps their tone of voice guidelines short, simple and easy to understand - making them more likely to be read, understood and remembered.

Deliveroo Eat More Amazing campaign


We’re exposed to 4,000-10,000 ads per day, so communications need to be distinctive to get noticed.We’re naturally drawn to things that stand out in the context of the environment. So some ways to increase saliency might be using eye-catching imagery, striking colours, larger fonts or even symbols.For the Deliveroo "Eat more amazing" campaign, the saliency is in the photography. Just look at the angle, the ooze of the egg, the knife pointing you to the copy and that enticing melted cheese.

Coca Cola heuristics


Heuristics can be any visual or verbal assets of a brand: think logos, colours, illustrations, photography, music, slogans or tone of voice, the list goes on. They’re shortcuts to your brand, a trigger for people to notice your product. Using elements that inspire emotion, attention and action can help to create shortcuts in consumer's minds. Coca-Cola is a classic example. The brand's colour, bottle shape, logo elements and font are remarkably strong, globally recognisable assets.

Here are some examples of great work that came out of it

Auto Trader needed to convey the value of their premium offering in an annual price rise letter. We increased the cognitive ease of the letter by leveraging cognitive biases such as social proof, picture superiority effect and reciprocity.

behavioural science to strengthen value perception

We created a series of behaviour-led posters to support retailers with their efforts to encourage social distancing in stores. One of the ways we increased saliency within the posters was through the use of the Von Restorff effect – the tendency for bizarre material to be more memorable. The use of a cow to represent the 2m distance was bizarre, and therefore more memorable. 

covid-19 behavioural-led retail posters in window

Sharps is hugely successful in bedrooms but they wanted to expand into a new space in the home, from fitted bedrooms to beautifully organised spaces. To help them achieve this we built on the brand’s heuristics and amplified them to encourage familiarity.


What do the creatives think of it all?

Creatives want to create gorgeous work that stands out, but it also needs to get results. BeBoLD gives an answer to the question of “why?” things need to be designed or written before the creative process. Ultimately explaining what the work needs to achieve to be effective. After all, marketing is about influencing behaviour.

Fancy a chat about what behavioural-led design could do for your brand?

If you’d love to find out what behavioural-led creativity can do for your brand, we’d love to hear from you. We deliver everything from insights, strategy and brand building, to big ideas and tactical execution. Contact us here.

By Tamsin Scott

Head of Marketing