Bliss Buter-Thompson’s observations about package design that seeks to evoke positive feelings with smiley faces (see: Kraft Macaroni and Cheese) reminded me of another persistent graphic design trend. The umlauted, sans-serif “U” as a happy face.
This kind of anthropomorphic typography in package design also reads as an emoticon: [“The letters Ö and Ü can be seen as an emoticon, as the upright version of :O (meaning that one is surprised) and :D (meaning that one is very happy).”] If consumers can respond to this method of expressing emotion on their cell phones, then why wouldn’t they respond to it on packaging?
Writer, Douglas Coupland has commented on this attraction to the umlauted Ü:
The idea that this particular character in this particular typeface is the most attractive seems to intentionally conflate typeface with happy face. In his 2003 novel, Hey, Nostradamus!, Coupland also wrote this sentence:
“But the Quails spoke only their own language, which had only one word, glü, with a jaunty, Ikea-like umlaut on the ü.”
(See Also: Douglas Coupland’s Plastic Bottle Sculptures)