Monday, November 26, 2007

What's Your Color?

A couple of years ago I was on a train from Madrid to Barcelona, reading the international edition of Time magazine when I came across an ad for Malaysia Airlines.

(Have I impressed you with the sly, sophisticated manner in which I’ve introduced such a cultured, cosmopolitan anecdote? Hah! My wife and I were in Spain visiting our daughter, studying abroad in Barcelona...)

The ad discussed color. More precisely, “Mood Lighting.” It went on to say “Over 200 variable shades of color and light. To help your body sleep through time zones and awaken you to sunrise. The T700 Cabin illumination system is just one part of the completely redesigned cabins on board Malaysia Airlines.”

Anyway, there is a point to all this. It got me thinking about color in general, and its psychological effect in persuasive advertising and collateral materials.

Welcome to another edition of Not Your Usual Marketing Tips from JDK Marketing Communications Management.

Colors definitely have an impact on our senses. Colors imply different intentions, eliciting different moods and responses…going so far as to influence product sales.

According to one website on the topic, “the colors you use for an advertisement are more important than the actual wording of the ad. The reason for this is that the colors (and graphics) capture the consumers’ attention, then causes them to read your ad… (says) ‘Psychologists have suggested that color impression can account for 60% of the acceptance or rejection of that product or service.’”

BPS Outdoor Advertising (billboards) looks at the appeal of individual colors on its website:
“Red symbolizes action, warmth, power, aggression, excitement, drama, fire, blood, passion, love, danger, anger, and heat. It is a highly visible color that will always attract attention. Red is also a good color for automobiles sales, pet shops, pasta shops, pizzerias, and restaurants. However, the color red is not recommended for medical companies because it signals bad health, blood, and emergencies.
“Orange is a vibrant and fun color. It improves mental clarity, promotes warmth and happiness. Orange also increases oxygen's flow to the brain. Contentment, fruitfulness, and wholesomeness are qualities that are also associated with orange. The color orange can help an expensive product seem more reasonably priced. Orange is an appetite stimulant. It is a good color choice for vitamin shops, Mexican restaurants, dance clubs, and products that target Latin and French audiences.

“Yellow is a perfect color for sunny, happy, bright, cheerful, playful, easygoing, and optimistic advertisements. It’s ideal for florists, candy shops, toy stores, amusement parks, and discount stores. Yellow is the first color the eye processes. It is also the most visible color to the human eye. This is why it grabs attention faster than any other color.
“Green symbolizes life, nature, environment, youth, money, renewal, hope, and power. It is a color that soothes people, reduces pain, and makes us feel safe. Since green traffic lights have conditioned us to go forward or to enter places, it makes us feel welcomed. Yellow-green is not a wise color for food advertisements because it is an appetite depressant. Light green calms people. That is why most walls in jails, schools, waiting rooms, and hospitals are light green. Green is a great color for financial advisors, banks, and accountants because it signals money. It is also good for outdoor products because it gives consumers a natural outdoor feeling. The color green can be used for green houses, vegetable stands, landscaping, and farmers because it signals life.”

According to the website Color Wheel Pro, “Blue is the color of the sky and sea. It is often associated with depth and stability. It symbolizes trust, loyalty, wisdom, confidence, intelligence, faith, truth, and heaven. Blue is considered beneficial to the mind and body. It slows human metabolism and produces a calming effect. Blue is strongly associated with tranquility and calmness. In heraldry, blue is used to symbolize piety and sincerity. You can use blue to promote products and services related to cleanliness (water purification filters, cleaning liquids, vodka), air and sky (airlines, airports, air conditioners), water and sea (sea voyages, mineral water). As opposed to emotionally warm colors like red, orange, and yellow; blue is linked to consciousness and intellect. Use blue to suggest precision when promoting high-tech products. Blue is a masculine color; highly accepted among males. Dark blue is associated with depth, expertise, and stability; it is a preferred color for corporate America. Avoid using blue when promoting food and cooking, because blue suppresses appetite.

“Purple combines the stability of blue and the energy of red. Purple is associated with royalty. It symbolizes power, nobility, luxury, and ambition. It conveys wealth and extravagance. Purple is associated with wisdom, dignity, independence, creativity, mystery, and magic. According to surveys, almost 75 percent of pre-adolescent children prefer purple to all other colors. Purple is a very rare color in nature; some people consider it to be artificial. Light purple is a good choice for a feminine design. You can use bright purple when promoting children's products.
“White is associated with light, goodness, innocence, purity, and virginity. It is considered to be the color of perfection. White means safety, purity, and cleanliness. As opposed to black, white usually has a positive connotation. White can represent a successful beginning. In heraldry, white depicts faith and purity. In advertising, white is associated with coolness and cleanliness because it's the color of snow. You can use white to suggest simplicity in high-tech products. White is an appropriate color for charitable organizations; angels are usually imagined wearing white clothes. White is associated with hospitals, doctors, and sterility, so you can use white to suggest safety when promoting medical products. White is often associated with low weight, low-fat food, and dairy products.
“Black is associated with power, elegance, formality, death, evil, and mystery. Black is a mysterious color associated with fear and the unknown (black holes). It usually has a negative connotation (blacklist, black humor, 'black death'). However, Black denotes strength and authority; it is considered to be a very formal, elegant, and prestigious color (black tie, black Mercedes). In heraldry, black is the symbol of grief. Black gives the feeling of perspective and depth, but a black background diminishes readability. Black contrasts well with bright colors. Combined with red or orange – other very powerful colors – black gives a very aggressive color scheme.”
So, then…what “hues” and “tones” make up YOUR advertising and marketing pieces?
And are they appropriate to your product or service?

Joel Kweskin

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