Philosophizing Banknote Design…

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Philosophising banknote designing process through a series of papers

Text of Philosophizing Banknote Design…

Philosophizing Banknote DesignN. Krishnaswamy

Assistant General Manager, Bharatiya Reserve Bank Note Mudran (P) Limitd, D 10/4, Note Mudran Nagar, Salboni- 721132, West Bengal, India

Abstract: This paper proposes a philosophy for banknote designing from emotional point of view. Banknote is a product of daily life and has value beyond its physical form and is used for transaction and storage. Good looking banknotes are not an exception. Sovereignty, freedom, trust, reliability, transactability, power and strength, vision, greatness and religious affiliations are the emotions associated with banknotes. Customers of the banknotes are general public, cashiers, central banks, banknote transacting machines and the counterfeiters. Could the banknote be a Ford s Black Motor Car ? A good looking banknote can elicit perception of credibility, confidence of security, feeling of attachment, improved performance and perception of pleasure. The author s philosophy for banknote design wants the banknote designer to follow the steps of creating perception, setting tone, build relationship with customer, enable dreams, inspire, enlighten and challenge the customers to newer heights. The banknote is not only a promissory note for financial transactions and offer storage value. It is aticket for realizing visionary dreams inspirations, aspirations and missions of millions and millions of world citizens and their countries. An emotionally balnced banknote will offer the user the feel of strength, power and enjoyment. Key words: Banknote, functions of banknote, emotion, understanding the customer, design philosophy.

1. BanknoteIt is a tangible good with intangible value. This is not shopped or bought but earned. It has a value beyond its physical form. It has an intrinsic value and is transacted on continuous basis as a currency. But its storage normally reduces its value due to inflation. Almost all the adults of this world use banknotes. Banknotes as a product are valued more for its intrinsic value than its looks. Its functional efficiency for possessing, holding, storing and transporting is of vital importance to users. Banknote is not marketed and sold but it is earned as wages, salary, interest, dividend, remuneration, profit etc. It holds an appeal beyond its intrinsic value to the user by its looks, aesthetics and functionality. In that sense it has more value to a banknote collector than anybody. But aspects of looks and aesthetics have a bearing on the user in addition to its basic functions.

2. Design and Banknote


Watch and jewellery - each can be truly attractive but if the watch does not tell the time and the jewellery absolutely unattractive, they cannot serve their function. But an attractive watch doing its performance exemplarily adds extraordinary value to user and onlooker. Mobile phone and camera - both are highly sophisticated and functional products. But mobile phones are eating away the market for low and low medium end cameras. This has resulted in camera manufacturers offering cameras with enhanced features with increased user-friendly aspects in their product. Considered in terms of above two examples banknote is a product for daily life. It changes hands many times a day and is carried close to or even on bodies! Therefore, a banknote should first of all have an easily recognizable denomination and an attractive [1] contemporary look. In short it should be designed for the public to like it. It is to be understood, where the banknote stands between the issue of functionality and aesthetics. How much the aesthetics of the banknotes emotionally involve the users to its primary and secondary functions and to its sheer beauty is the subject matter of this study. Banknotes are designed like any other product for its functionalities and performance. In fact they are customized by the country, which issues them and universally recognizable features are incorporated. Aesthetics too play an important role in the design of banknotes. Aspects of performance quality, conformance quality, durability, reliability and style are important in banknote design. This paper studies the emotional aspects to be considered in banknote design and try to formulate an approach towards that end.

3. Functions of Banknote 3.1. Primary Functions of BanknoteBanknote as currency is used as a medium for transaction of products, commodities and goods and services of all kinds. This is a product created as the ultimate result of human ingenuity to manage and value its day-to-day life. It has to be easily portable, storable and transactable. It has to sit comfortably in a purse of a lady or a wallet of a man or the pocket of any user. It should be storable in the shops, coffers and vaults. It is human centered. During transaction it should have comparable flexibility, foldability, resistance or tolerance to moisture, sweat and grise. The universality of this product is such that it is used by the farmer to landlord, proletariat to capitalist, soldier to general, student to professor etc., without any exception. It is an object with a value and can be earned as price, wage, profit, salary, interest, or prize. To a collector it is a piece of art.

3.2. Secondary Functions of BanknoteThe most important secondary function of banknote is its looks. Its appearance, feel, finish, smell, size and thickness matter to a great extent. For a banker or the issuer these secondary functions may be of negligible interest to the levels of irreverence. But for the country of issue banknote as sovereign product that carries the country and its authority to all its user citizens. For these internal users this means the respect for the power of the government who rules. The banknote in the same stroke conveys the prestige and status of the country to the user. For a foreign country or a foreign user it is the business card of the issuing country. It is the first face of the country to them. Aesthetics and emotional appeal takes care of these above points.

3.3. Unwanted Functions of BanknoteA banknote is one of the few products, which has almost no unwanted functions associated with it. In India2

banknotes are used as garlands. Banknotes are strewn all over the funeral procession and during marriage ceremonies of certain communities. They are also gifted into the dress of cabaret dancers. But these and others have never deterred the banknote from serving its core function of giving value and transactability.

4. Emotions Associated with BanknoteDesign is important also for the emotional reasons. In fact a study says that pleasing / attractive things work better [2]. Banknotes are associated with varied emotions. In fact no other product can give the range and gamut of emotions as banknotes give to the humanity. It can give extreme ecstasy to utter dismay and grief to the individuals who gain or lose them respectively. It is associated with almost all emotions as perceived by the humanity. This is true for those possessors, non-possessors and aspirers of banknotes. For a country, which manages it well, it is source of power, strength, symbolizing sovereignty and an effective tool of foreign trade and relations. For an individual it is the source of status, security, affordability, choice, power, superiority, comparative advantage and reach. It is the strength of an organisation and primary source for different resources. Higher the denomination and more the quantity of banknotes possessed, the larger and stronger the perceived and felt power for the user nation, organization or individual. The author identifies the following aspects of feelings

for consideration in designing a banknote.

4.1. SovereigntyThe authority and prerogative to issue currency is vested with a sovereign country. It is the most sought after power of any independent country. Many countries do not have it. It shows the ultimate control of things happening in the country s territory.

4.2. FreedomIn its broad terms of meaning it is the question of choice of issuance of currency. In particular its name, its colour, its size, contents, its name, denomination and value are chosen for exclusiveness and uniqueness.

4.3. TrustIt projects the trust of the citizens of the country, which has been vested with the government to rule monetarily and issue currency. It projects itself as the trust of the individual citizens on their own mutual selves and the organizations, which they have created to serve them.

4.4. ReliabilityA worthy banknote gives the dependability, steadfastness and consistency to the user and economy. It gives the confidence to the user and perpetual belief on some unseen or unknown system of economic governance.

4.5. TransactabilityThis is the most important character of banknote to be able to use within the country and beyond the country as a foreign exchange. Not many banknotes are accepted as currency of exchange or trade internationally. National transactability is very vital and it should not become like the post Second World War German Mark or current Zimbabwean currency.

4.6. Power and Strength of the countryThis not only means economic power but also geographical and political power too. The power is not actually3

seen but it is to be all pervasive and felt. Banknote is one of the most important medium for that.

4.7. Vision of the countryA country without vision is the one without direction. It will have no road or door or window to grow and prospe. The banknote is again one of the important sources to project that vision.

4.8. Greatness of the countryA country s greatness is derived from its history, personalities, and contribution to its society and the world at large. Its achievements in all the social, cultural, engineering, technological spheres push the country into the real