We tend to take the full spectrum of colors for granted.
Let’s take a look at some of the companies whose products or brands would suffer without the benefit of a full color label.
Before, we have a box of glisteningly sweet, cold, refreshing, fruit-flavored frozen delicacies. After, we have… what? A McCarthy-era warning about the feared superiority of Soviet nuclear missiles? Turn-of-the-century, retro-futuristic depictions of 21st century buildings (named after fruits, for some reason)? Whatever it is, on first glance, I certainly don’t want my children sucking on them. Full color labels help make subtle promises to the consumer like the relief of an impossibly-colored frozen treat on a hot summer day. It appears that sweet things are especially dependent on vibrant colors to sell.
The world’s most popular search engine has undergone many changes over the years. Google’s full color logo features primary colors, softening their tech-y image to be more friendly and familiar to its users. Looking at the logo after we drain out its friendly colors, Google’s eye looks more like an Orwellian horror—the all-seeing eye of the Internet, copying your every keystroke and compiling your profile to more efficiently target you. Actually, now that you put it that way…
Toy R’ Us
Toys R’ Us, the toy superstore whose star rose, fell, and rose again over the period of 20-odd years, has undergone a number of redesigns during its rollercoaster of a life. Like Google, we see the friendly use of primary colors. The Toys R’ Us logo takes its softening efforts even further with its logo with rounded edges and a friendly, bouncy text. While the effect isn’t completely lost when you suck out its colors, it’s safe to say the Toys R’ Us doesn’t appear quite as kid-friendly as before.
Even with the colors drained, the flag’s too iconic to lose its meaning. It’s almost as if my eyes are filling in the colors where they ought to be. Still, I wouldn’t want to go slapping an American flag on my products without the bright red, white and blue. Just doesn’t seem right.
Once again, we have a “sweet” logo drained of its sweetness without color, only this time, it’s a doll. Strawberry Shortcake doesn’t look quite as friendly without her ginger locks, and her strawberries look more like shrunken heads from a cheap 80’s voodoo horror film. Our minds are tuned to expect color in some situations; blacks and grays in the place of pinks and reds can feel “wrong,” “off,” “off-putting,” or plain “scary.” Is that a glint of malice I see in the B&W Shortcake doll’s eyes?
I suppose the point of all of this is to demonstrate the importance of full color labels in many situations. While it’s true that some products’ labels don’t require color, many of our favorite brands and products would have a hard time coming off the shelf if they chose black and white labels.