So I am a sucker for packaging. I have bought products simply based on their packaging, if it has a unique name or is made from an interesting material. For instance, I often find myself going out of my way to Target to purchase Mrs. Meyer’s cleaning products – strictly for its packaging. Does it clean better than its main-stream counterparts? Not necessarily. But I still remember picking up my first bottle of counter cleaner simply because of its coral red label.
Why? Because red is my favorite color? No. But it did stand out in a sea of solid white bottles with clean blue bubbles and zinging yellow lemon graphics in the cleaning products aisle.
I wanna see your “True Colors,” the true colors of your brand…
So here is a chicken and egg question: Do I purchase products based on packaging because I am in marketing or does the logo and/or packaging color influence my purchases just as it would for those not in marketing? Well, I know the bulk of the populous neither works for an agency nor makes a living as an Art Director like I do, so there IS something to the query as to why we have affiliations with some brands over others.
Mind you, I am not talking about brand loyalty. That comes later. I am talking about two brands standing side by side that you have never heard about. What is going to push you to go for one and not the other? And no…you can’t do a Google search on reviews or cross-reference Yelp or Amazon.
I am talking about the color psychology of a brand.
What is Color Psychology
So I went to art school, I learned about all the “feelings of the color spectrum” – warm and cool colors, action vs. calm colors. Like Titanic or the Notebook, it’s a lovely story, but what about some real world, hard data that pertains to branding and marketing directly in the business world?
So I did some research, and found study after study, article after article stating that anywhere from 60-90 percent of a customer’s purchasing decisions are based on brand COLORS.
More than half, so HA! I am not alone!
What to Do with Color Psychology Information
So what do we get from that…what can we do with all of this information on color psychology?
- Familiarize yourself with what color story relates to which feelings.
- Recognize that color is the first thing a consumer will notice about your brand and/or packaging.
- Digest color decisions CAN directly impact your company in the long run (sorry to tell ya, it’s also been proven).
- Decide based on common trends – and maybe even make a direct and opposite choice based on your competitors – on what your true brand colors are.
Cool thing is it costs you next to (if not) NOTHING to choose your brand color(s).
The Color Spectrum
Why is it PURPLE Rain? Who isn’t happy in a YELLOW Submarine? Why can’t it be BLACK or WHITE?
So like I said before, there is a very specific science to color and its emotional relationships…there is actually an entire college course devoted to the subject when you go to design or art school – Mine was ART113 Color Theory. Great thing for you; you don’t have to take a semester’s time or pay the tuition to get a good handle on it. Here’s a quick rundown of the color spectrum and its emotional relationship(s):
The color of love has actually been shown to activate your pituitary gland, increasing heart rate and speeding up your breathing. So red is great for:
- Food Industry – Kellogg’s, Coca-Cola, Dairy Queen, KFC
- Technology – YouTube, Canon, Virgin, Nintendo
- Automotive – Toyota, Exxon, Mitsubishi
Not really great for brands that want to evoke calm or dependability, like energy, clothing, or airline travel.
It’s cool, it’s mysterious, it’s the color related to royalty and wisdom, along with innovation. So purple is glorious for:
- Finance – Ally Financing, Principal Financial Group
- Technology – Syfy, Yahoo, T Mobile
- Health Care—Aetna
Not really great for brands that want to evoke growth, like energy or agriculture.
It can be as calm and tranquil as the ocean or a clear sky, but also sincere and dependable. So blue is reliable for:
- Energy – NASA, Energy Star, GE
- Finance – JP Morgan Chase, American Express
- Airline Travel – US Airways, America West, Southwest, Priceline
- Technology – Dell, ATT, GE, Twitter, Facebook, Vimeo
- Health Care – Web MD, Blue Cross/Blue Shield
Because it is so calm and chill it is usually not the greatest for clothing, food, or automotive brands.
Green is the color of money, but is as fresh as a pine forest. Green is affluent for brands in:
- Energy – BP, RECYCLE Icon
- Food – Starbucks, Monster Energy Drinks, TicTac, Green Giant
- Household – John Deer, Whole Foods
- Technology –Spotify, Android, Xbox
Again, because green is so calm and fresh it is usually not the greatest for clothing or automotive brands.
As bright and warm as the sun, yellow gives you energy and creativity. Yellow will jazz up brands like:
- Energy – National Geographic, Shell
- Food – Subway, Denny’s, Sun Chips, McDonald’s
- Household – IKEA, Wal-Mart
But bright and cheery isn’t for everybody…yellow wouldn’t be the greatest for finance, automotive or technology.
Red and yellow LITERALLY had a baby in the form of orange – so it combines the brightness and cheer of yellow, while bringing the energy and boldness of red. Perfect for:
- Technology – Firefox, Bloggers, Nickelodeon
- Food – Fanta, Orange Crush, Hooters
Orange may be too strong for some brands like energy, finance, automotive, and clothing.
It’s earthy, it’s strong, it’s durable, doesn’t show dirt…well, because it is the color of dirt. Brown is perfect for:
- Clothing – COTTON, Louis Vuitton
- Agriculture – Gloria Jean’s Coffee, COTTON
Being associated with dirt is typically not a good option for technology or finance brands.
The lack of color can give you the opportunity for the product or background to be a bit punchier by using both positive and negative space. Creating a timeless, clean, and sophisticated look for:
- Clothing – Adidas, Gucci, Chanel, Nike, Puma
- Technology—Apple, Motorola, Wikipedia
- Automotive – Mercedes, Hyundai
Being simple and bland is not always a good option for food or finance brands.
One fish, two fish, red fish…how many blues is too many blue fish?
So you now may have a few…or several…favorite colors or strong color schemes in mind for your brand. What if you can argue each color is appropriate for the brand in its own way? What then?
Well, there aren’t any set rules on HOW MANY colors should be in your logo or which colors are best together, but again, the combination and quantity can “tell a story” about your brand.
Some companies just LOVE color and have multi color logos – Google, for instance, has FIVE colors in its logo and we know those perfect crayon colors by heart. There are also five colors in the Olympic rings. NBC and Ebay show their personality with multiple colors. The choice in doing this could be about inclusion, bringing things together or showing diversity.
But 95 percent of brands use only one…maybe two colors…in their branding. Nike, Target, Facebook, hello…The YELLOW Pages even sticks to one color. It’s a simple, clear, clean message….no muss, no fuss with mixed color messages, and it is real easy to “stay on brand.”
On the other side, many brands are known for their color pairings… Chevron’s red and blue, IKEA’s blue and yellow, FedEx’s purple and Orange, or John Deere’s yellow and green.
So are your brand colors your true colors?