The use of colors is critical to products and brand marketing. As different colors and palettes can cause different psychological impact and perception, appropriate use of colors can establish emotional connection amongst consumers, products and brands. It can also deepen the consumers’ impression and affinity towards the brand.
According to color lover Maryann Wong, Director of Sales & Marketing – Pantone APAC, “80% of human knowledge and memory are acquired through vision, and colors are the first message that we receive through our eyes. Therefore, colors are vitally important in information transmission. Marketing-wise, colors are a factor that could affect a customer’s purchase decision by as much as 50 to 80%.”
Unique message carried in each color
The wealth of colors is described as myriad, infinite, or even with astronomical numbers. Wong pointed out that each color carries its own unique message, which generates varied psychological and physiological impact on the observer.
- Red is the most active color. It activates the human body and senses.
- For a very long time, orange has been regarded as a symbol of wealth and love. It is a highly indicative color.
- Yellow always reminds people of the sun. It represents hope, joy, optimism and promise. Sunshine yellow is even regarded as the happiest color.
- Brown is the color of earth. It is symbolic of roots and is closely associated with stability, longevity and reliability.
- The fact that both the sky and the ocean are Blue implies that blue is the most important primary color in nature.
- Green is a refreshing color. It has the power to recover and it symbolizes nature, a new beginning and health.
- White conveys purity and peace, as well as a sense of cleanliness and hygiene.
- Black is luxurious by nature, and it comes with a sense of authority.
- Grey symbolizes staunchness and perseverance; it represents substance.
- Purple is the combination of two very different emotions – the exciting red and the calm blue. It can convey special meaning.
Catching consumers’ eyes to establish connection
Colors are very helpful in differentiation and association. Comparing with texts or shapes, colors can more easily draw the attention of the consumer, and therefore are important design elements. Wong commented that colors can catch the eyes of consumers and arouse emotions, which in turn affect the desire to purchase. Employing the psychological message and meaning of colors in the narrative of a brand story helps establish an emotional connection with the target consumer group. It also works as a differentiator with competitors.
“Whether it is for brand identity or product application, colors are the window to the soul of a brand. Understanding the psychological message of colors can facilitate the application of the power of colors, which can tie in with the design strategy.” Wong said that the seasonal trend publications issued by the Pantone Color Institute analyzes the trends of fashionable colors. It also offers practical cases of applying colors on products, such as how to craft an ambience with colors and how to create harmonic color combinations, as well as analyzes the emotions expressed and their psychological impact on consumers.
Wong specifically mentioned that the use of color chips is essential to accurately creating colors, in particular applying colors on different materials. In the whole process of color development, spectrum data can also be used to accurately match the colors.
Exemplary use of brand color: Tiffany
So, do consumers always react in the same way to colors? Wong reckoned that consumers’ responses are more or less stable, but there are also certain changes. Different cultures look at colors differently. Therefore, it is more important to ensure the credibility of color information.
Speaking of the most successful brand color, Wong quoted Tiffany. “Tiffany blue is consistently used across physical and digital platforms. As a result, that symbolic blue is now a trademark unique to Tiffany. No matter where you are in the world, when you receive this blue box tied up in a white ribbon, you’d know which brand it comes from.”
Color of the Year enlightens the future
Pantone has been announcing a Color of the Year since 1999. It means more than ‘what’s trending’ in the world of design, and is a reflection of what is needed in our world today. The Color of the Year in 2018 - “Ultra Violet”, pantone number 18-3838 – is about exploration and imagination. Leatrice Eiseman, Executive Director of the Pantone Color Institute, said, “We are living in a time that requires inventiveness and imagination. It is this kind of creative inspiration that is indigenous to Pantone 18-3838 Ultra Violet, a blue-based purple that takes our awareness and potential to a higher level. From exploring new technologies and the greater galaxy, to artistic expression and spiritual reflection, intuitive Ultra Violet lights the way to what is yet to come.”