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March 16, 2005

All The Hues That Fit To Print


When it comes to massaging the news, what are the standards of disclosure?

The NYT is all over that question (Under Bush, a New Age of Prepackaged TV News – link) in their Sunday analysis of the media’s ready use of pre-packaged Bush Administration video news reports (VNR’s). 

In the Week in Review section the same day, the Times also ran an article (The Revolution Will Be Colorized — link) about the recent tendency of political movements to identify themselves by a specific color.  As you might expect, the story relied heavily on color pictures to depict various examples, including campaigns in Ukraine, the Philippines and Lebanon.  If a person can hardly be one hundred percent positive about anything these days, I’m almost certain these photos were artificially color saturated to punch up the story.

I freely admit that the representation of propaganda as news is an order of magnitude more serious than the adjustment of reality through a higher intensity of hue.  As someone who carefully parses out the political and psychological dynamics of political images however, I can’t help but believe there’s some parallel.

Of course, the color in a news photo will always be an approximation in the same way color in real life is also variable, given natural fluctuations like changes in light, or more unique variables, such as individual color processing in the eye.  At the same time, if the Times is going out of its way to artificially amp up the color in a political article that specifically represents the naturalistic use of color, I think they at least owe a disclosure.

(Note: Other than a slight reduction in size, the image above is reproduced exactly as it appears on the Times website.  If you follow the link to the article, the Multimedia box in the right column offers a slide show of all the images from the print version.)

(image: Victoria Sinistra /Agence France-Presse — Getty Images in The New York Times)

  • aethorian

    Some policy tips from Package Design Magazine, Five Principles for Effective Package Design Research:

    #1: Avoid side-by-side “beauty contests” … the single most important principle of effective packaging research is monadic study design, in which each person sees and reacts to only one system—and findings are compared across “cells” (those who saw current packaging vs. those who saw proposed packaging).
    #2: Start on the shelf by gauging visibility … shoppers never see at least one-third of the brands displayed. Research also shows that being seen quickly—visually “pre-empting” the competition—correlates quite highly with purchase.
    #3: Remember: the norm is competition … Effective package designs typically create a competitive advantage by “owning a key dimension” through a unique physical appearance (a color, a shape, an icon) or by clearly highlighting a differentiating message.
    #4: Present “complete” packages, not individual elements … Evaluate “complete” packages—not individual design elements—because the whole is often much different than the sum of the parts.
    #5: Don’t rely on a single number: … include shelf visibility, aesthetic appeal, competitive differentiation and personal relevance.

    And here’s a few color pointers on how to Polish Up The Luster of Brands That Are Due for a Contemporary Update:

    “Marketing research indicates that over 80% of visual information is related to color”
    In any branding project, from initial conception through the entire life of the brand, color is a vital element in the identity of that brand. Branding is critically important as it positions products and services to reach a desired consumer demographic
    Every aspect of brand management strategy is geared toward building a relationship with the consumer; one in which there is positive and on-going interaction with that brand and its assets.
    Color is a tool that must be used to assist global corporations in packaging their products or services to achieve these ends.

    Essentially, flags are logos for our national brands. One problem with their design is the limited number of bold colors that quickly register with potential buyers on television, computer monitors, and in print. Another problem is crosstalk: the varied meanings of color symbolism across national borders, cultures, and history (Arab flag colors are discussed here).
    On the international scene (or better, screen), for example, America does not have a monopoly on the old red, white, and blue. Flying in the face of Principle #1 above, this might cause some on-the-shelf confusion among shoppers.
    No matter the brand, we need to open the box and take a look inside.

  • donna

    Hey, color works for flowers…

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