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Careful with the Color: one big lesson from “the dress”

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Careful with the Color: one big lesson from “the dress”


By now, “the dress” has become an internet sensation. Is it black and blue? Gold and white? This seems to be the question that has divided the country. Thousands of people have joined ranks, insisting that the dress is without a doubt white and gold, while thousands more have shouted from the rooftops that it’s blue and black. A simple question over the color of a dress has evolved into today’s largest internet debate.


Professional mind bender, Jason Silva, offers an explanation to the dress phenomenon in his National Geographic program, ; “nobody sees color the same way, no one sees the world the same way”. Essentially, the way we see the dress’s colors depends largely on our emotional state, our expectations, and the light of our environment. “Our brain is throwing in intention, expectation, preconceptions, stereotypes. All these things are also informing what we perceive”.


Because no one’s world is exactly the same, everyone perceives characteristics differently.  “Usually, those differences are subtle enough that they don’t cause significant disagreements,” Silva says, “As in, the green that I see is not the same as the green you see, but we both can agree on Kermit the Frog’s color”. When it comes to the dress, no one can agree on a color “because we’re not looking at it from the same point of view”.


This internet sensation is also representative of a huge problem within the sign world; one of the most common miscommunications when it comes to designing a sign is in the color.  All too often, communication about the design of a sign is done over email. Usually, this would be fine, but not when it comes to color approval.  You could be seeing one color, while your boss sees another, and your customer sees yet another!


So what’s the best way to insure that your sign turns out in the color that you want?

Choose from actual samples – Simply saying you want your sign to be “light blue” could mean hundreds of different things. Be sure to stick with the colors’ PMS numbers so there’s no confusion over which light blue you’re referring to!


OR…if you can’t give a color number…


Choose in person – If the dress has proven anything, it’s that colors can be deceiving, especially when you’re looking at them online.  Colors look different on different computers.


To avoid a not so happy surprise when you get your sign, you should always pick from sample colors in person or by PMS colors.