September 28th, 2011

Color is not limited to the printed page and for this reason, we’re dedicating this week’s post to commercials, as color’s power of persuasion is at its finest when paired with a moving image. The principles taught in the past three blogs are just as vital in video as they are in logos. Whether you’re a director, cinematographer, designer or web developer, color plays an important role in your design.

In video, color can be subtle or obvious. Directors or photographers make sure they send the right message by meticulously calculating the color palettes that will be used.  Because, like we’ve said in our previous color posts, each color sends a message and can be used as supportive or lead color.

Mac vs. PC commercials

Apple subtlety uses color to make its point. The drastic difference in the actors’ appearance and personality makes the message obvious: Buy a Mac.  But there are supporting elements that make the audience believe that the Mac computer is cooler than a PC as well.

If you remember last week’s blog, we talked about the meaning behind color. While brown is the color of earth and stability, it can also denote an old and dull feeling, as it does in this commercial.  In most of the commercial, “PC” wears neutral colors, communicating to the audience that PC is boring, dull and flat.

On the other hand, “Mac” is much more likeable because he is wearing blue, statistically the number one favorite color. Blue is also considered to be the color of intelligence, trustworthiness and commitment. In the commercial, blue represents the “favorite” computer that leads in innovation and design. Brown represents the “failing” computer that can’t seem to compete with the Macintosh. The stark white background reiterates Apple’s commitment to clean and simple designs.

Some commercials use color to highlight their brand above everything else. In this commercial for Chase Bank, the viewer’s eye is lead through the video by the signature blue logo.  As the blue logo travels throughout the video, the brand holds the viewer’s focus because everything else is black and white.  As we mentioned in our first post of this series, colors work well together when they’re not competing, and combining two neutral colors with a primary makes for a harmonious union.

Here are a few more commercials that use color to subtly enforce their brand or dramatically drive their point home:

Willy Wonka Commercial

Travelers Insurance Commercial

Next time you’re watching TV don’t just ignore the commercials, instead try to figure out what job color is doing in them.

Color Blocking: What are your favorite ad campaigns and how do they use color?

Posted Under: Art & Design, Storytelling
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  1. Walli says:

    This is certainly a thing I need to do more research into, thank you for the posting.

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