Here’s a simple exercise. Go to the mall. Pick up a box of Pringle’s potato chips for me, will ya?
But when you get back to your home, you find something strange. The pack doesn’t say Pringle’s. It says Jingles. And someone has misspelled the word ‘chips’ and spelt it as ‘chops’. So instead of Pringle’s Potato Chips, you’ve got Jingle’s Potato Chops.
So how did you end up with this strange brand?
You chose colour as a recognition pattern.
When you walked down the aisle over-filled with potato chips (yes, I know, I avoid that aisle too), you ended up picking what looked like Pringles. And today, it just happened to be Jingles Potato chops. But you know what happened, right? You trusted the colour of the product, because it was located in the right aisle.
And you trusted the shape
Because Pringle’s is so unique in its shape and packaging, you didn’t even look twice. In effect, Pringle’s has taken over a very strong position in your brain. They own the colour ‘red’ and the ‘shape of the container.’ Of course, today we’re talking about colour, so let’s stick to colour, shall we?
So how does colour affect your brand?
Surely you don’t sell chips. Yes, you don’t, but you can still use colour to create a factor of branding. Colour literally gives you a message. In most Western countries and across Asia too, colour has a common language. But there are exceptions. And you have to understand local cultures, especially if you plan to launch a brand in a local culture. Here are the most common expressions of colour:
* Red: urgency, passion, heat, love, blood, excitement, strength, passion, speed, danger
* Yellow: warmth, sunshine, cheer, happiness, cowardice, brightness
* Blue: truth, dignity, power, coolness, melancholy, heaviness, trust, reliability, belonging, coolness
* Orange: playfulness, warmth, vibrant
* Green: nature, health, cheerfulness, environment, money, vegetation, nature, fresh, cool, growth, abundance
* Purple: wealth, royalty, sophistication, intelligence, royal, spirituality, dignity
* Pink: soft, sweet, nurture, security
* Black: sophistication, elegant, seductive, mystery, death, rebellion, strength, evil
* White: purity, cleanliness, lightness, emptiness, pure, virginal, clean, youthful, mild
* Gold: prestige, expensive
* Silver: prestige, cold, scientific
So look at our products and websites:
5000bc: Green – Why? Because it’s a cheerful, giving place. The core of 5000bc is to be helpful and kind. And to grow. And what colour signifies 5000bc better than green. The only colour that comes close to green is yellow, and that’s not quite what 5000bc is all about.
Brain Audit: Red- Why? Because it’s about excitement, and urgency. As the Brain Audit explains, if you don’t understand the customer’s brain, they’ll walk away from you. So that’s urgent. Therefore red works.
Masterclass Series: Black- Why? The workshop series is elegant, sophisticated (ok, so I’m doing a little PR here), but once you attend a workshop series, you’ll see the seductive power of knowledge and strategy.
Psychotactics: Um…we’ll skip this one, shall we?
Look at colour all around you:
What colour is a Porshce?
What colour is McDonalds?
What colour is Santa?
What colour is Fedex?
What colour is T-Mobile?
What colour is the flag of your country?
What colour is Harley Davidson?
So what’s the learning?
A few important learnings here:
1) Don’t get hung up on the overall brand colour: As you can see with Psychotactics, the main brand is a greenish-orange combination. Which is different, and um…memorable in a psycho sort of way. But hey, the sub-brands of Brain Audit, 5000bc, Masterclass series are all individual colours. This means your main brand and your sub-brands can be different in colour, provided they actually have different names.
2) Different names? Yes different names. Each of the products have a whole new identity. So the Brain Audit sounds (and is different from) 5000bc, which is different from the Masterclass series. If you’re going to create sub-brands for different services and products, be sure to give them separate names (Twins)
3) And just remember, there are no hard and fast rules. Purple is the colour of death in Brazil, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t launch your product in purple, or that there are no products in purple in Brazil. That’s a whole lot of nonsense. All you need to do is be vigilant of the connotations, and then decide if it works for your product/service or not.
4) Once you’ve chosen a colour, roll it out and keep it rolled out. The more your customers see your colour (or combination of colours) the more likely they’re going to remember you and your brand. You don’t have to be a big player in the market. Even with a small budget, and a powerful colour strategy, you can stand out and be different.
5) Remember that customers (that’s you, me and everyone else) make a lot of choices simply by using colour. That’s why we know that Martians are green. And Pringle’s is red.
But read the packaging too, will ya? Just so we don’t end up with Jingle’s!
Next Step: Want to learn more about branding? Find the entire branding series in text, audio with cartoons!
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