Careful choice of branding colours can mean the difference between success and failure, as colour engages our initial visual interest. Colour is the tangible expression of a brand’s personality, it’s look, it’s feel, it’s recognition, and by capturing our attention successfully it may ultimately inspire us to make a purchase.
Colour and emotion are significantly linked, which is why brands are designed with this stimulus in mind. Up to 85% of customers’ first impression is based on colour alone as colours trigger an array of different feelings. For instance – red generates a faster reaction as its inbuilt deep in our psyche as DANGER, hence red SALE signs stimulate us to take action.
To evoke feelings of nature and being environmentally friendly, retailers tend to choose green. McDonald’s is a prime example of a brand using colour to shift perception, having changed its store fascia to green, a colour that sits comfortably with Whole Food retailers.
As brand popularity increases, it is imperative that their distinctive colour identifier is protected. For instance, as a tribute to Queen Victoria in the early 20th century, Cadbury changed it’s brand colour to purple, and has since gone to extreme lengths to reinforce its differentiation, even fighting court cases to trademark and win exclusive use of its colour purple (Pantone 2685C).
On simplistic packaging colour is a big advantage for brands. However, colour can also be a bit of a nightmare. When product ranges are expanded and sold globally, there is greater room for error. Frequently packaging is printed in the country of manufacture and sale, and consistency becomes a logistical challenge. Inks can vary in richness and intensity on different materials, so colour uniformity can become problematic.
Colour management is therefore of major consequence in human perception, and it is important that designers and brands use this knowledge to influence their designs. This is where technology can assist. PantoneLIVE is an online colour database which standardises colour specifications against extremely slim margins, working to control the conditions that can affect how we see a given colour. A very technical process resulting in total colour consistency across all packaging, and if any brand wants to print something new because of changes in consumer trend, printers can download details on the right colour online in seconds.
Ultimately, consumers learn to recognise and trust products across all categories, including perfume and designer clothing, and will spot an incorrect colour or logo immediately and leave it on the shelf.
For major brands, colour stakes are exceptionally high, and because colours mean different things to different cultures, they will not necessarily be identical across all markets. What matters is appreciating their significance and investing in consistency.
Outer packaging is an effective tool for a first purchase, and if consumers return for a second time and the product is consistently good, they are more likely to repeat purchase. Brand consistency breeds loyalty, trust and brand recognition.