Because Colour is Everything

Published: 07/03/2020 by Ross Chesterfield

Subtle and impactful is probably the best way to describe this mid-nineties Ariel advert. It pointedly gets the advertisers message across about the importance of colour, and as a result, it has become a well-known advertising classic.

The clever use of flags adds texture to its message regarding identity, history, psyche and power. In fact, flags can maybe be considered the origin of all branding, and indeed today contemporary branding tries to bring the succinct visual messaging of flags to corporate brands.  

It’s not news to anyone that colour can have pronounced psychological effects on people and as such colour plays a vital role in developing the visual voice of a brand.

What is news, is that the uniform assumption that certain colours illicit pre-set psychological responses is not the case. A recent study by the US paint and coatings manufacturer, Sherwin-Williams, shows that: where you live, your age and your gender changes your perception of colour.

Take green, for example, Millennials are more likely than older generations to most associate the colour with energy (33 % vs. 24 % of Gen Xers2 and boomers). Baby boomers are more likely than millennials to associate green with calmness (26 % vs. 20 %).

Yellow, a colour commonly associated with eliciting optimistic emotions, in fact, evokes differing emotional responses in women and men, with the latter more than twice as likely to associate the colour with weakness (35 % to 17 %).   

So, what can we learn from this research? Firstly, company branding is not a one-off activity, it should be seen as a continuous evolutionary process ensuring a company’s brand grows with and remains relevant to its target market.

Secondly, it shows how our granular understanding of what appeals to specific demographics grows over time and as such regular brand reviews ensure businesses continue to stay relevant and don’t fall by the wayside like so many have before.

Do you remember Wimpy?