White… beauty brands favorite color

Across cultural lines, and continents, the color white is associated with purity and the truth. Established beauty brands have for long benefited from this relationship using it as the foundation for their marketing visuals. This idea become a standard of the beauty industry. For newer brands, the dilemma in using white for their photography is to do it in a way that is original and helps stand apart.

Inherent advantages.

White is an important color for most cultures. In ancient Egypt priestesses wore it as a symbol of purity, in Europe a white unicorn symbolized divine presence. As a symbol of sacrifice, the Pope has worn white since 1566. In Islam and in the Shinto is worn by pilgrims. In the West and Japan white is the color for wedding dresses.

Modern surveys show that white is the color we most often associate with perfection, the good, honesty, cleanliness, a beginning, the new, neutrality, and exactitude.

White also happens to be a superb graphic solution and has been the preferred color background since the times of Gutenberg. When used on a page we interpret it as an area with no information and direct attention to other things instead. When employed as a background in a photograph it gives flexibility to use the image in different ways.

The color white is like a double-edged sword. It conveys simplicity and can help establish a product as a premium value proposition. But, because the color is so widely used it can also convey “generic” and “cheap”. A reflection gives a feeling of luxury.
Adding a shadow creates a surface which grounds a product. We associate something on the ground with gravity and as having weight making a product feel more real. A horizon adds depth.

Established brands own the color.

They acquired it with vision and a sense of purpose. Engaging the contribution of talented professionals who helped to create innovative, inspiring, marketing messages. Perseverance and the pass of time has transformed these brands into the industry metaphors for the color.

Introduced in 1968, Clinique became the first dermatologist- conceived cosmetics brand. Clinique’s marketing has never been driven by celebrity but about featuring the actual product instead. The company pioneered a simple, clinical, hygienic look and for fifty years the brand has collaborated with extraordinary photographers to create masterful marketing images. Irving Penn, Guido Mocafico, Richard Burbridge and Raymond Meyer have lent their skills to make possible for Clinique to epitomize the image of skincare on a pristine white background.

In 2004, Dove organized a photography exhibit featuring the work of sixty-seven female photographers. The photographs in the show served as the beginning of a conversation about the way women are perceived in society, and the way they view themselves. The exchange resulted in the effective and celebrated, “Real Beauty” campaign created by Joah Santos and Ogilvy & Mather.

Photography for the original ads was done by Rankin. Pictures showcased regular women instead of professional models in front of a white background. Copy was touching: “You are more beautiful than you think”, “Fat or Fab?”, “Wrinkled or Wonderful?”.

Gray tones create the illusion of a three-dimensional space. giving a photograph an up and a down, a front and a rear. The picture becomes a record of a time and a place.

A unique white.

The advantages of photographing on a color rich with cultural connotations that have been strengthened with renowned marketing campaigns are obvious to everyone. Supermarket coupons, Amazon sellers and most beauty brands are using white as a background for their photography.

At a moment in time when audiences are hungry for originality the question for a beauty brand becomes: how to create pictures on a white background that look different?

Large brands go about answering this question by taking on superior talent. Exceptional photographers create images that stand apart simply because they look better. But then, exceptional talent is scarce and so is costlier.

An affordable alternative is creating images that include other elements besides the white background and the product. Having more things in a picture creates for richer visuals. Additional elements such as reflections or shadows can be used to direct the perception of the product and give infinite options to use them in original and innovative ways.

Our clients tell us that pictures showing the actual product instead of just the packaging increase online sales by an average of 14%

92% of all cosmetic brands
photograph their products
on a white background

What color
would help
stand out?

Via U! creates beautiful marketing images in every color of the rainbow, including white, at a price everyone can afford.

New York – Worldwide

Recent Posts

Do you want
your brand to

We could have a conversation to explore how to get the most out of your budget. How to create photography that speaks for what is that makes your brand special. It could be that we come up with ideas that make your visual messaging stronger and your products look fantastic.

It’s a small world. You can collaborate with us in New York, from any town in the world you call home, as if we were next door neighbors.

Let's talk

New York – Worldwide

Can we help create your marketing images?

Powerful marketing images at a price that fits your budget – Everywhere around the world.

Via U! creates beauty and product photography, video & motion.