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Image collage by Johnér Images

An art form, or maybe a new approach to your communication?
Are you plumb tired of warm sepias or pastels and would like to see a more raw, minimalistic range of hues? Or maybe you're searching for nostalgic or sophisticated values for your communication? Then read on!

You could previously read about the Color Bomb and Nordic Noir trends on our site. Now we're seeing the emergence of a new trend in black and white photography that got us curious. So we talked to semiotics specialist Karin Sandelin at Kantar Sifo to learn what black and white images portray and how best to use them in your communication.
ima162171 –  Girl in flower wreath on lupine field
A timeless expression
Before the birth of color photography, there were only black and white images and movies. Perhaps that's why we're brought back to times past when we look at black and whites.

In some aspects, black and white images remove us from time and space, and thus create what we call a "timeless" expression. What we probably don't even consider is that it is the image colorization that helps us determine the subject's location, time of day, year and era.

Do you wish to portray retrospective, documentary-like values that refer to times past? Or would you like your images to be associated with nostalgia and romance, or perhaps portray an analytical look on the subject's face that sparks memories? Then black and white images are perfect for your communications.
ets9401 – Old woman with cigarette and sunglasses
Serious, sophisticated
or punk
Generally, black and white images are just right for expressing contemplation with a faint air of seriousness. Black and whites can also effectively relay messages of sophistication and elegance, or distance and control.

If the coloration of your images differs greatly, adding black and white may just boost the composition of your selection.

In art photography, black and whites are often used to create "artsy" images – especially when high contrast is used. Add some "noise" to the image and you get a more punky, rebellious expression.
ets17454 – Tailor in the fog
Is it a living, organic tonality you want to depict?
In that case, we don't recommend the use of black and white. Black and whites dull the senses of smell and taste as well as the imagination. And should you wish to portray the "here and now" – black and whites don't make the cut.

Make a conscious choice
Nyköping, a city in Sweden, is in a class of its own in building up a long-term brand with images that arouse longing for Nyköping itself. In spite of the use of cooler black and whites, they have undoubtedly managed to capture a warm feeling aimed to spark people to want to live in Nyköping.

We would also like to highlight another brand that brilliantly uses black and whites, namely Länsförsäkringar, an insurance company in Sweden, in their #Misslyckad campaign. Here, they contrasted black and whites with color images to create a feeling of seriousness and a hopeful warmth – nicely portraying the message of this campaign.

If you choose to work with black and whites, do a plan and make a strategic and cohesive selection of images. Consistency in imagery builds clarity, which in its turn, builds brand credibility.
Image collage by Johnér Images
Source: Semiotics Karin Sandelin at Kantar Sifo.
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