How Color Can Be Used In Business

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Just recently Michael Cornnell, Associate Editor for Promo Marketing Magazine put up a video of a package he received on his blog. What set this latest arrival (one of many) apart was the clever and consistent use of color. The clip is short and simple, and lets you see the impact of color… and how, properly used, it can really add that “WOW!” factor to every contact you have with customers or prospective ones.
Truth is, before everything, color is the first thing people notice.
One of the most intriguing parts of a University of British Columbia study from 2009 is the suggestion of just how receptive people are to color on packaging and marketing messages.
Red backgrounds lent more favorable impressions of products when the “ad” had specific product details. Ads that emphasized things you’d like to avoid also held greater appeal on red backgrounds. Creative designs, or a focus on positive benefits were more appealing in blue.
We’ve talked before about what science tells us about color and how to use it in your advertising. There are some basics, that once you understand, make settling on the colors for your business (or a promotional product) a bit easier. Here are common associations of basic colors…

  • Red is a symbol of power, romance, vitality and energy and evokes highly charged emotions like aggression or love. In the direct mail world, red was always for the price and the phone numbers. That’s because we know that people pay attention to red. Only in the financial world is red a truly negative thing. Used red to add  excitement.
  • PInk sends different messages depending on the intensity of the color. Hot pink lends energy, youth, fun and excitement ‚ good for less expensive or on trend products for women/girls. Dusty pinks are sentimental, lighter pinks are romantic. Pink also has strong connotations with established causes.
  • Orange is cheerful and exuberant, fun and vital, a gregarious and childlike. Lighter shades appeal to a more upscale market — good for healthcare, restaurants and salons.
  • Yellow brings to mind thoughts of energy, caution, warmth, cheer and joy. Yellows are often linked with characteristics like friendliness, softness, welcoming, homey, moving, excitement or adventure. Suggested uses: Stationery, shopping bags and press kits. Signs in the workplace to warn of danger.
  • Green is associated with growth, rebirth, fertility and life, linked for all of us to environmental causes. Green brings to mind characteristics like dependability, freshness, safety, security, healthy, strong, expensive and (strangely) primitive. Some also see green as a sign of good luck.
  • Blue/Purple are colors considered symbols of many positive attributes… peace, law and order, logic, analytical, smart, honest, calm, clean, tranquil, compassionate, serious, thoughtful, quiet, reflective, regal, classic, dependable, tradition and magical. Notice that blue is most often found in financial institutions, hospitals and in the medical, legal profession. Purple has long been linked to royalty and magical things, and are most often found in designs that appeal to women.
  • Black is serious, bold, classic and powerful. It creates drama… is sophisticated and is a smart choice for costly items, but can make things look weighted and heavy.
  • White is simple, pure and clean, our eyes see white as brilliant and it catches the eye at once in signs. This color is most often used in infant and healthy products.Showing Your True Colors

Remember, to be effective, a color scheme needs to be used consistently — in all your business communications, your packaging, your logo, signs, marketing pieces and business cards. So it had better be something you like, or at least can live with. The video from Cornnell‘s blog demonstrates how effective consistency can be. It makes you look polished… like you care… not new to the game but an experienced pro.

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