How perceptions of “the dress” relate to your marketing content

March 2, 2015 | By: Lauren Reeves | 2 min read

It only lasted about 48 hours. That was all it took for the wave of controversy to crash in and roll back out.

The blue and black dress Caitlin McNeill/Tumblr

You might remember how at the end of last week, the Internet blew up over a picture of a dress. It wasn’t a particularly interesting dress, and the photo was nothing more than a snapshot from a phone’s camera. But when a Scottish woman sent an image of a bridesmaid’s dress to a group of her friends, they each saw “the dress” in different colors.

Some saw the dress made up of gold and white fabric. Others saw it as black and blue. As the friends argued over the true colors of the dress, the woman decided to take to the Internet and get the world’s opinion. Within hours after posting the image to Tumblr, she had garnered millions of responses worldwide. From Kim Kardashian to Lolo Jones, and everyone in between, some people saw white and gold, some saw black and blue, and some saw both.

Opinions about why people saw the dress in different colors ranged. One opinion suggested that if you had recently experienced a negative event in your life, you’d see colors differently than you normally would.

Thanks to a WIRED article, science prevailed and pretty much proved that viewer perception depends entirely on the environment in which one views the image. The lenses in your eyes and the light from your screen will interpret and project the colors differently depending on whether the screen is viewed in daytime or nighttime, in shadows or sun. So, it’s ultimately up to the color balance of the specific image being viewed, which can change across screens and environments.

Though the scandal over “the dress” seems like a lot of hubbub, a lesson can be learned from the drama, and applied to your marketing content. Consider how each individual looking at that image is using a different form of media, in a different environment, to view it: smart phone outside on a sunny day, tablet inside a dark library, or a laptop in a artificially lit office. There are so many different viewpoints of one single image, and thus so many different perceptions.

Now, let’s relate this to a business situation. Imagine an image was on your website. It could be a shot of one of your products, a staff member, or even your brand logo. Each individual viewing that content is looking at it from a different point of view, in a different environment, causing the content to be perceived in a variety of different ways.

This variety leads to inconsistency and misperceptions of brand image, which can be detrimental to a user’s experience and to the brand. So as marketers begin to build your content, it is critical to be strategic about how and what to provide for an audience. The content must be clear, straightforward, and adaptable to as many users as possible.

At LaneTerralever, we take this into special consideration in our marketing strategy. We understand many people are now using smartphones and tablets to view websites and search the Web. Therefore, their screen sizes are significantly smaller than that of a standard desktop screen or laptop, altering what they see and how they see it. Because of that, our developers take a “mobile first” approach to building websites and adding content. This means we consider how a mobile user would see the site, and work around that, before building a site appropriate for desktop use.

Working in with this mobile-first mentality ensures seamless transitions from mobile to desktop viewing, and significantly lowers the chance that a site will appear distorted to the viewer, like the image of the dress. Maintaining that consistency across devices and platforms is critical to properly and effectively building your brand. You can check out more information about building a personal brand on our website.

And for the record, the dress is really, actually, black and blue.

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