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"most of us like the way BLUE teases..."

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Roberto Dondi
Word processing, html programming and the ropes 
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Archive 2000

The Aesthetic Dimension Of Marketing
or: The Blue Wave.

(INTRO) October 1973. Two young reserves are reaching the front of the so called IV Arab-Israeli war since 1948. One is Sgt. Weinraub leaving the young woman and her mixture of colored paints --blue, green, black, yellow... An admirer of Herbert Marcuse's "One-Dimensional Man", he believes the publicity is a sort of misdemeanor that is changing the actual hierarchy of the men's needs. He is not a man o' war and his silent presence on the dramatic scene will reveal the opposite to the noises of the warlike machines. The man will see a lot of red matter outside the wounded corps during his stay amid the lines of fighting --until he will retire... (From movie 'Kippur' by Amos Gitaï, 2000).
As the publicity has been criticized by some people because its objectives would condition the actual men's needs, that are so going to diverge from real life, I ought to respect this great refusal of the repressive marketing. I have chosen this time to write about the aesthetics of product publicity. An aesthetics based firstly on the rave onto the fantastic colors... a kind of joyful war machine addressed against the virtuous man? Let's see the meaning of the main colors in the language of marketing and how to translate them into the Web numeric code (hex).

PART ONE - BLUE is a widely used color. From dark blue to marine blue it means classic and tradition. Turquoise has rather got a look of modernity and brightness. Blue reflects the meaning for cleanness because it's the color of the water. The equally immediate reference to heaven and sea makes this color suitable for being connected to traveling. But the blue is also the most important color in the visual perception of security and steadiness. Alone or associated with white, blue has been using on a host of product marks linked to the finance, banking and transportation. Traditionally symbolizing the male sex it's a color useful in supporting the products for man.
GREEN is the color of the nature especially in association with blue and brown. From soft-green to grass-green these shades are a fine background and complement for primary colors. Green is a common symbol for going ahead at traffic lights: therefore an international visual code for approval and permission, used on health care products or well controlled consumer goods to reassure on their safe consumption.
WHITE is matching purity and style, or practical efficiency, by the modes it is presented or associated to other colors. Designers use white to express sincerity and innocence. But the main role white plays in the publicity is that of a secondary color giving evidence and impact to images and lettering. For this reason white is present on any type of package and design. BLACK embodies the elegance and appeal of high quality products. It's been using to reflect an image of sober refinement. In using it with other colors like purple and gold one yields values of passion, glamour and intensity. GRAY points out qualities such as reliability and lasting of a practical product. Gray is important in the design of fashion and signalling as it's both minimal and neutral color.
YELLOW is concerning very different color tones and it is generally liked by every age groups. A not conformist color by excellence, yellow enters as well the contemporary graphics as the modern publicity. Together with other primary colors (red and blue) it yields a dynamic effect. Harmonized into orange, browns and greens it defines a natural product. Yellow and green look like tropical environment, and orange is a useful medium for getting a strong impact from shelves or billboards.
RED is a marketing tool by different ways. Highly characteristic, red is very able to attract the glance, above all when it appears as a flash on print material or packaging. Red is the color of energy and involves generally the young people. The usage of red and white creates a clean and garish image typically referring to an audience made of the general market. Dark shades of red can confer elegance and versatility on the product aimed to both male and female consumption.
PASTELS are very numerous shades from pale pink to sophisticated beige to carefree lilac. They get a fresh, clean look and are less aggressive than deep colors and more friendly than severe white or black. Pastels are the first choice for spring-related products. Their usage in the publicity obtains an original approach to the product communication. The family of beiges stimulates a sense of heat and softness; pink and peach are female colors well used on cosmetics; sky-blue and marine-green meet the two extremes of business world and kids merchandise. As packaging colors, pastels usually make objects to seem larger in size but lighter in weight. They are ideal as background colors permitting the saturated colors to gain relief.

PART TWO - How to make an impact with Web pages using the colors? You have to consider the color is only a single means of Web communication within or with backgrounds, photos, images, icons, buttons, banners, arrows, etc. The general impact of colors onto Web pages is fairly different from the meaning of colors on packaging or print advertising. So use the references on color from the marketing principles (part I) for establishing a good balance through the general appearance of your business over the Internet. Web color system includes a palette of 16,777,216 colors (!), thanks to the combination of three primary colors R/G/B (R= red, G=green, B=blue), each of which may assume a double value from 0 to 9 and from A to F, for a total of 16x16 = 256 "shapes" for any basic color. To easily compare and select so a great range of colors, I would suggest you to use a simple table like this below --developed by Ideo.com-- where every single color is represented by means of a cell in which the RGB code of the single shade is immediately recognized and readable.
Web Color Visualizer by Ideo.com

Final remark: most of us like the way BLUE teases... "What's your favorite color? Probably it's blue (...) All surveys managed after World War II have been showing, with good regularity, that almost 50% of interviewed people, both in Western Europe and in the USA and Canada, answered this question by pointing blue out. Green follows (a bit less than 20%), then white and red (each about 8%), other colors being placed far behind. These are, in the West, the results concerning the adult population". (From 'The Man And The Color' essay by Michel Pastoureau, 1987). What's the role of the product publicity in such an outcome? The search for the cleanness in depth has been feeding for decades by the publicity of umpteen detergents, beauty creams, toiletries, mineral waters. Thus blue has become a crucial weapon on the publicity of depth to creating a modern consumer myth. Besides I think the blue wave is a war heritage because every postwar society wants to expel the mud and rot that entered skin, teeth, breath, blood, everything --as an allegoric dream of a whole new generation. And sure color is a thing helping to dream!

(OUTRO) Some industry heads or top managers are using to release information on their own reading during informal interviews by major journalists. So far so good. But we are made aware of their livre de poche that at times are memories by military experts, for example general Clausewitz or field marshal Rommel, aka the Desert Fox. Usually their models were gaining fame far from the war action or, if into the act, failed. More: the trade is not a battle field and the true leaders have to cooperate not to vandalize, to build not to bomb. If by chance you read so on, simply don't trust them anymore! 

©2001 Roberto Dondi-DMLR.ORG
GIF animation • k®ea'ti:v • DonRo • donro@dmlr.org
Preview for DMLR members [Feb.01/01], short strokes [Feb.03]
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