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Is Your Brand Black & Blue OR White & Gold?


The photo of the dress by Roman Originals has taken the Internet by storm recently, flooding social media sites and becoming the headline of news portals around the world.

While the actual dress is blue and black, the photo itself was a rare occurrence as it found a unique perceptual visual boundary that was able to dupe the world into seeing different colours from one another.

Scientists say it’s due to how our brain perceives colour differently from one another under certain lighting. Whatever the case, this lesson in perception  resonates deep when it comes to branding.

The meaning or intention behind your brand message can sometimes be lost upon translation in today’s ever-dynamic market environment.

A recent notable example can be seen during the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.

The organisers of the Olympics at that time had hoped to breathe a new change into the design of 2012 Summer Olympic logo – adding a dash of vibrant energy and the element of freshness into the design with a price tag of $800,000, according to an ABC news report.

The essential idea was to embrace change and so they strove to express their brand identity through the logo. However, upon the official unveiling of the logo, it was met with resounding disapproval and criticism from audiences.

Despite the massive marketing budget allocated, the organisers still missed the target when it came to the ever-important Olympic brand logo.

According to an unofficial BBC poll, 80% of the participants gave the design the lowest score possible.

Much to the organizers dismay, a large majority of the people had negative views of the logo; failing to see the zest and attractiveness that the organizers themselves thought they saw.

To some, albeit a niche group of consumers, the logo was even suggested that it resembled a Lisa Simpson from the popular animated series, the Simpsons, performing a sexually explicit act to her brother in the series.

Aside from that, Iran also threatened to boycott the Olympics claiming that the logo spelled out the word “Zion”.

While the organisers of the 2012 Summer London Olympics were certain of what their brand were about, they most certainly did not take into account that perception is relative and that just maybe people may not see it the way they did – just like the blue and black dress!

The identity was there but somewhere along during the execution, the final product was one that was perceived differently from what the organisers themselves saw.

It’s therefore an important lesson to take away, that we should always put ourselves in the consumer’s shoes and remember that not every one person is the same.

Perhaps we would never be able to fully take into account every single aspect of the market environment but it is something that we can at least try. This is the reason why we have focus groups and why it is vital we get a fresh set of eyes to look at something we’ve been working on for so long.

Contextualization is often the key to successful interpretation.

Do people perceive your brand the way you intended?

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