Color Blind Branding

At top: genetically-modified squirrel monkey can now perceive red & green (via: Alex Dodge); 2nd row: a tetrachromat test (number or letters are visible, but only to humans with unusual tetrachromatic abilities); 3rd row, left: logo for Colorblind Chameleon; on right: an origami beetle pin made from an Ishihara Color Test —ishihara 8 by Cat@mation (via: Tractor Girl); 4th row, left: Orbit Mist gum pack (Mint Waterfall flavor) has a background of Ishihara pattern bubles; on right: Adam Dixon’s proposed cover design for The Giver; 5th row: Dandy Maulana’s proposed branding for Prime Ink toner cartridges;  bottom row: Section Seven’s design for Microsoft CD sleeves — (pebbles arranged in Ishihara patterns)


Looking at package design through the filter of pointillism, (as we did yesterday) I’m reminded of another pointillist pattern of circular dots: the Ishihara Color Test.

…a color perception test for red-green color deficiencies. It was named after its designer, Dr. Shinobu Ishihara, a professor at the University of Tokyo, who first published his tests in 1917.

-from Wikipedia’s entry on Color Perception Test

… a circular array of closely spaced, non-overlapping, variable-size colored circles, with a numeral or other identifiable graphic, distinguishable only by difference in hue.

If you think that such perceptual hidden pictures would be counter-intuitive for branding purposes, you’d mostly be right. There aren’t a whole lot of brands that want to hide their message from 8% of the market. There are even articles written about avoiding such pitfalls. (See: Color Theories in Package Design — Color Blindness Should Be Considered)

Still, it’s an interesting pattern that invites a certain consumer interaction. The Print Ad above titled, Color Blindness Test was done by Tbwa\advertising agency for Perwol laundry detergent in Poland.

The Ishihara color test pattern also figures prominently in Yoav Brill’s 2010 animation, Ishihara.

(Black & white and skin tone, after the fold…)

Sometimes the Ishihara Color Test is ironically shown in black & white.

On the left, Matthw Gamber’s 2010 Gelatin Silver Print: Ishihara Test in Light–Brite is part of his “Any Color You Like Series.”

“The photographs in Any Color You Like are an experiment in how photography can confuse our perception of information. These photographs are of objects whose primary function is to stimulate our perception of color.

A black-and-white image might depict an object of the present, but its character is forever is locked into the past. When these items are rendered in a traditional black-and-white format, the information that remains is merely an abstraction of its previous form.”

On the right is painting, “5” by Xero Corp:

The painting, “5”, is in the familiar form of the Ishihara colourblindness test but is rendered entirely in shades of grey. While alluded to in the title, the usual information the test might include in its scattering of dots is not apparent visually. Are we missing something? We are confronted with the appearance of a colourblindness test as a truly colourblind person might see it, reduced to complete abstraction.

Xero Art

I like these black and white versions of full color subject matter. (See also: Jasper Johns & black & white Trix television commercial)

Another idea associated with “color blindness” is skin color.

This poster by Anne Ulku, entitled Color Blind is an Ishihara color test based on skin color.

See also: Nathan Gibb’s Crayola Monologues

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