At one point or another during their education, everyone has heard of Aristotle’s famous take on persuasive rhetoric:  ethos, logos, and pathos.  Ethos establishes trust and reputability.  Logos demonstrates logic, facts, and reason. And pathos is all about evoking and appealing to your emotions. These three ideas, used alone or in combination, are often the basis for many marketing campaigns, including digital strategy campaigns. They can work together as part of an integrated communication and marketing campaign to influence viewers’ perceptions and desires and, ultimately, persuade people to buy what they’re selling, to donate to a cause, or contribute to some ultimate online goal. 

Logos, pathos, and ethos form a powerful digitial strategy triumvirate through which design and development techniques and technolgies can create persuasive websites. The following represent a few of our favorties.


Colors can be used to elicit a response from people, there truly is a psychology behind color. It’s rarely noticed, but companies rely on specific colors to attract customers to their brands, the most popular application being in their logos. Restaurants use red in their logo often because it is known to stimulate appetite. Some use yellow because it represents warmth and cheeriness. Blue is seen as peaceful and green can be representative of nature and growth as well as being a soothing color.  It’s important to research when using color in your website’s style so as to understand how it could subconsciously affect or even distract your target audiences.  Afterall, color can repel as much as it can attract.


A more obvious aspect of your communication is the words you use. Words can inspire or incite action, and can be written ethically, logically, or emotionally. In ethos, it matters less about what you are saying and more about how it is being said that brings in that characteristic “ethos” credibility. Of course, say what you mean, and mean what you say. What is the tone? Who is relaying the message?  Is it someone reliable and easily trusted? In logos, bringing forth hard facts or data to persuade the audience’s minds of your position. In pathos, it’s all about your emotional appeal.  By pinpointing the emotional heartstrings that resonate with a particular audience, you are able to connect on the same level with your website’s audience. Show empathy and look for shared experiences. As morbid as it may be, mentioning or alluding to death, injury, or other types of misfortune frequently connects with audiences on a deep, emotional level, especially when paired with images. All those sad images of unadopted pets are in those TV commercials for a reason…


It’s still true, an image is worth a thousand words, especially in our web saturated world. To appeal to ethos, try using a familiar and trustworthy face. For logos, infographics are becoming increasingly common, and with the right creativity and design, they can be truly beautiful. It becomes very real to see an organizational image of how many vaccinations were administered in Africa this year as a result of volunteer contributions, or how many alerts were sent to people this month in an attempt to protect their identities. Imagery presents data to people quickly and logically. To evoke pathos on a website, photographs can be one of the best ways to go. Pictures allow people to visualize and are often easier on the eyes than a lot of text, or even color saturated graphics. If you can show a particularly moving picture and pair it with a listicle or other logos-related technique, that’s even better.

Just remember, Aristotle’s framework for persuasive rhetoric is alive and well on the web. Give it a try, you’ll be pleasantly surprised and throughly convinced.  

Please contact us if you are interested in developing a persuasive digital strategy project. We’ll build you more than a website.  We’ll design and develop a persuasive user experience. 

With offices in Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles, Ca., New Target provides digital strategy, digital marketing, web design, web development, branding, website hosting, and creative services for prominent nonprofits, companies, and government.