If you haven’t heard about the viral phenomenon of The Dress, then you’ll probably be the last to hear about the apocalypse. Just saying, it was that global.

How can something as simple as a picture of a dress posted on Tumblr stir up conversation among neuroscientists? Well, it all starts with one low quality picture taken on a cellphone. Add in the variables of different digital screens, room lighting and vision from person to person and you get a debacle at significant as #Dressgate.

No one could agree on the hue, whether this dress is #whiteandgold or #blackandblue, or some weird mush of nameless color. Or colour, considering the post originated from a young woman in Scotland. Either way, the question was answered when she posted a second picture of the dress. Spoiler alert: it’s black and blue.

You might be thinking, “Oh, people are just looking at different screens, it’s just a quality issue.” But how would you explain people claiming to see blue at first, then look again and see white? Or how Kim Kardashian tweeted that it’s white and gold, while her husband, Kanye West, saw blue and black? People looking at the same screen claimed to see different colors.

So what does this mean in the grand scheme of things? Many feel that this is a good representation of how every person sees the world differently, and how we should do our part to acknowledge and accept our differences.

Yeah, whatever. As a graphic designer, there’s a real lesson to be learned in all this. I just want to make the point that if you have a low quality image, a low quality logo, an RGB swatch for your print or CMYK for your social media, you’re in for some real branding issues.

Do you want people to look at your magenta logo online and think you’ve rebranded when they see fuchsia on your storefront? What, you don’t think fuchsia and magenta are that different? Ok, what if you thought all along that the Facebook logo were just a blank, white square? Or if the golden arches of McDonald’s always looked a little…dim to you?

Quality and an understanding of print and digital colorization are very important for all materials that represent your company. Just one handout with a low-res jpeg of your logo, or a poorly-chosen set of colors for your brand guidelines, could be seen differently by many. And you can’t just blame the printer or the consumer’s phone screen. It’s up to you and your designer to choose the right colors and the files you use in your media.

Unless you’re Roman Originals, and someone’s bad picture of your dress happens to go crazy-viral in a really unpredictable good way.


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