Posting this here as there's no marketing SE, but it seems marketing is topical here given that Marketing = UX.

Say you have a product with six benefits, three of which indicate lack of negative qualities.

In marketing material, you arrange them into two columns, one for good qualities and the other for lack of negative qualities, bulleted with green checkmarks and red crosses respectively:

✅ Full-size, genuine plumbus     ❌ No animal testing                 
✅ Only the finest dingle bop     ❌ No maintenance fees               
✅ Uses only organic fleeb        ❌ No complex installation           

What's a good way, by changing the icons, colors, typography, or some combination, to visually indicate that both columns are benefits, while still keeping them visually distinct and without causing confusion?

  • 5
    Not strictly an answer, but sometimes you can rewrite a lack of a negative into a simple statement of a positive. For example: "No complex installation" -> "Simple installation". But I'm not sure if you can do that with the other two items. Commented Dec 2, 2020 at 11:28
  • Why do you want to keep them visually distinct? Commented Dec 3, 2020 at 0:07
  • @TannerSwett Breaking them up like that adds a bit of visual interest, plus the Rule of Three. Commented Dec 3, 2020 at 12:24

6 Answers 6


Add some catchy column titles.

As it is right now, it looks like it's not free from animal testing, as the "No animal testing" item is not checked. Adding column headers will allow you to group them into "good things" and "no bad things" without relying on icons or color only while also helping the user scan the info quicker and read the bits that matter most to them.

Two columns, with check marks on both, and titles to describe the groups as good things, and lack of bad things

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    Yes, use check marks only.
    – Dúthomhas
    Commented Dec 2, 2020 at 3:47
  • 1
    While I agree with the answer, I don't think the presented picture captures the requirement from the question to “keep them visually distinct”. Could be that the UI phase of the design will bring more contrast to these lists (good spacing, background colors, and images around close to the lists), though. Commented Dec 2, 2020 at 18:33
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    I second the suggestion of avoiding X versus checkmark. The way I look at it is that you don't want the symbols doing double duty (i.e. communicating two ideas). The OP seems to be imbuing the symbols with the meaning "it has (this thing)" whereas most readers will quite likely interpret it as "(this thing) is good or bad" - Which is not the intention. The fact that the items are grouped into columns which seem to indicate a dichotomy between the groups of points reinforces this unintended meaning in my opinion.
    – Joel Brown
    Commented Dec 2, 2020 at 18:42
  • I, as an average joe, can clearly see that this list lists positive qualities (using checkmarks, using crosses and red implies negative meaning of the point it's preceding) and there are two lists - one listing the positives and the second listing the absence of negatives. It is distinct and conveys the meaning well.
    – mishan
    Commented Dec 4, 2020 at 15:01

Use a "No symbol" (🚫) instead of an ❌.

In general, a No symbol indicates the following situation:

  • An environment does not have some item or activity in it
  • That was a conscious decision, to improve the environment.

It looks like this:

✅ Full-size, genuine plumbus     🚫 No Animal testing
✅ Only the finest dingle bop     🚫 No Maintenance fees
✅ Uses only organic fleeb        🚫 No Complex installation
  • 1
    For me this evokes double negative - I see it as saying this product is developed using animal testing and cannot claim to do "no animal testing" - the icon itself evokes the interpretation that everything that follows is a negative and should be interpreted negatively.
    – mishan
    Commented Dec 4, 2020 at 14:59
  • @mishan The "double negative" issue also applies to the original format given in the question; this was mentioned in the top-voted answer. I agree that it still applies when the symbol is changed as suggested here. Commented Dec 5, 2020 at 10:17
  • It's common to use a No symbol in combination with the word "no". For example a no smoking sign will often contain both. The No symbol only negates that which is inside it (the cigarette in the case of a no smoking sign), not the text next to it. Commented Jan 13, 2021 at 20:18

Copywriting guides says that you should change negations to positives turning them into benefits for potential customers. So instead off x No animal testing, no maintenance costs, complex installation they could be: checkmark or some friendly icon with :cruelty free, free maintaince, dead simple set up. etc


It seems to me that the main problem is the double-negative that stems from the graphic reading as "not 'no animal testing' ".

So how about using just a single negative?

✅ Full-size, genuine plumbus     ❌ Animal testing
✅ Only the finest dingle bop     ❌ Maintenance fees
✅ Uses only organic fleeb        ❌ Complex installation
  • 20
    This would be confusing if you were just skimming...it still looks like a list of pros and cons... Good, genuine plumbus, bad, uses animal testing. Commented Dec 2, 2020 at 9:03
  • Hmm, I can see what you mean.
    – noughtnaut
    Commented Dec 2, 2020 at 9:04
  • 1
    I agree that the double-negative is the problem.  But instead of removing the ‘No’, how about replacing the cross?  A green tick with ‘No xxx…’ next to it isn't as much of a distinction, but it's still clear — and if each entry in that column starts with ‘No’, maybe that would be sufficient?  After all, what you want to highlight is that these are all benefits; the exact type of benefit is a lesser distinction.
    – gidds
    Commented Dec 2, 2020 at 15:33

If possible (not necessarily obvious here), use a descriptive icon of what is bad, either crossed out, or with a "No sign" (red circle with a diagonal) around/over it.

"No animal testing" could for instance look a bit like this:

No animal testing

Source of the Image: Laurène Smith, FR on the Noun Project, slightly edited.

Of course, some things are easier than others to show this way. A search on Google Images may yield interesting results (with or without the "no", with a filter for black and white or clip art or line drawing, and then following Related images).

  • 1
    Anything that your reader can't figure out at a glance is bad. And I can't figure out that icon at a glance. It looks like a red circle with black blobs in it. I know that's just an example, but I'm not convinced that any other icon would be better. Commented Dec 5, 2020 at 9:25

If we put this in simple terms, logically speaking, if the first three elements on your list are checked and have the same icon, the next three are too, so the icons should be consistent, all are benefits. I would not use any different style, not even highlighting the “no”. In my opinion, this is more of a semantic challenge. For example, “no animal testing” —> “cruelty-free”, “no gluten” —> “gluten-free”, “no maintenance fees” —> “maintenance fee-free” or in other cases could be “host-only fee”, “no complex installation ” —> “easy installation”.

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