Tag Archives: branding

Whitehall colour branding

The UK government is set to rebrand its departments with bold new colour schemes. The new colours include lots of blues and greens; for example, navy blue for the Foreign Office, bright blue for the NHS and green for the Department of Energy and Climate Change. However, the The Department for Culture, Media and Sport, which is purple at the moment, is reassigned bright pink.

Read more here.

women like pink

I don’t know if it is related to my recent post that people, especially females buy bright colours in times of austerity, but I just came across a report that claims that women like pink gadgets and laptops.

Dr Gloria Moss, Reader in Human Resources at Bucks New University said:

“There’s a very strong tendency for men to prefer hard, rectangular and dark shapes. While women showed a preference towards more curved, and pink design. I don’t think it’s anything for women to be afraid of that women like different colours, because the roots of the colour preference take womens’ responsibility beyond hearth and home. The differences have their origins in the different activities carried out by men and women over the ages.”

Moss used a range of website designs created by men and women to test her hypothesis amongst a sample group of students at Oxford. Men preferred linear, rectangular designs, while women preferred colourful designs with large images.

I’m a man but I also like pink. So clearly the above does not apply to all women and all men.

For balance see my post on pink stinks.

meaning of red

Today I found Karen Haller’s blog post on the meaning of red.

I liked the fact that she wrote about positive (warmth, excitement, energy) and negative (aggressive, confrontational) connotations of the colour. Karen argues that companies that use red as their primary colour are aggressive and energetic with a buzz about them. She gives examples of vodafone, coca cola, and virgin. Do you agree with her?

Koreans hate pink!

About six months ago I posted about popular car colours in Canada. Silver and grey were the most popular colours according to sales data with black not far behind. I think it would be a rather similar story in the UK. Certainly silvery grey has become very popular over the last 10 years or so. My own car is black. My last car was grey. White is not popular here – I heard that car salesman refer to the colour of second-hand white cars as “three-week white” because it takes three weeks longer to sell them than cars in other colours. Though I think the last few years has seen a slight increase in the popularity of white cars in the UK.

Anyway, according to The Color Association of the United States nine out of ten cars sold in South Korea are white, silver (grey) or black – a higher proportion for these three colours than in any other country. Apparently, white cars have the highest resale value; white is associated with families and therefore white cars are thought to have been owned by responsible family types like me and therefore will have been well maintained. (My car is definitely not well maintained.)

It’s very unusual to see a pink car in Korea – only a rebellious type would have such a car! The Wall Street Journal are currently reporting a story about such a non-conformant and feature on a Mr Park who bought a white sports car and had it painted pink. Whereas in France, the Citreon DS3 has just been launched with a fuchsia pink roof. There still remains a cultural difference where social pressure in the east urges people to fit in whereas in the west it is more about “look at me”. A japanese person once told me there is a proverb about the nail that sticks out gets hammered down.

Personally, I would love a pink car, though certainly not a Citreon. This story also reminds me that a web-based study suggests that the most frequently mis-spelled colour word in the English language is fuchsia – or is it fuschia?

red makes you eat less

Yesterday was the first lecture in my module (Colour: Art and Science) at the University of Leeds. In this module I look at colour from a multi-disciplinary perspective covering art, design, physics, history, philosophy, neuroscience, advertising and branding – all perspectives that are needed to understand colour or are strongly influenced by colour. Towards the end of the module I look at colour in branding and advertising and look at the effects that colours have on people’s behaviours and emotional states. One of the frustrating things about it though is that there is a lack of high-quality research about this. In fact, I would go so far as to say that there is more nonesense written about colour (in books and on the internet) than almost any other topic I know!

Take the effect of colour on appetite. Lots of websites and books will tell you the same thing. Red stimulates appetite and this is one reason, for example, why it might be used in MacDonalds’ interior colour scheme. On the hand, blue inhibits your appetite; one reason for this is often stated as being that blue foods are quite rare and therefore we are predisposed to not want to eat blue foods (though what about blueberries!!). But when people write this, how many of them have actually done any research or read any research about these effects? That’s what I mean about nonesense; people write it because they heard it somewhere or imagined that it might be true. Last week I came across some research on the effect of colour on appetite. In this research, published in the Journal of Appetite, and jointly carried out by staff from the University of Basel (Switzerland) and the University of Mannheim (Germany) it was shown that participants drank less from a red cup than a blue cup and ate less snack food from a red plate than from a blue plate. In other words, the opposite of what is commonly believed. The point of this is that more serious research needs to be done to explore the effects that colour has; come and do a PhD in my lab and help to rectify that!!

Of course, the research referred to above does not necessarily mean that people would prefer red food to blue food or that people would eat less food in a restaurant decorated in red rather than blue. It is exactly that sort of extrapolation that is partly responsible for all of the misinformation about colour that is everywhere around us. I have to confess that I myself am sometimes responsible for this misinformation since I was talking to the students last year about the appetite-suppressant properties of blue. I need to stop now …. and go and do some more research.

blue is the favourite colour

Very impressed by this post from Janice’s blog. Who is Janice? One of Canada’s leading colour designers. She’s also a colour consultant.

I have never been to Canada but I know a canadian professor and he is extremely funny. He told me a story that CBC radio held a competition to complete the sentence “As Canadian as ….”, as in “as American as apple pie”. The winning entry was “As canadian as possible under the circumstances“. Very funny. I am convinced this sort of entry could never have won in a similar competition in USA, for example. It’s more like British humour. Reminds me of Monty Python. It’s a nice story. Is it true? Yes, if you believe Wikipedia. And we all believe wikipedia don’t we? See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canadian_identity.

Back to Janice’s post … She raises the question of what is the favourite colour (resulting from polls). She says it is blue, but not just any old blue. Janice says it is royal blue or indigo, as opposed to something like baby blue. I ran a poll, just for fun … you can see the results here, though you have to take part in order to see the results. Blue comes out pretty near the top, of course, with green and purple; though in my fun survey I don’t get into the fine detail of which blue is favourite (warmer or cooler, reddish, neutral, or greenish?). Janice must be referring to some more detailed surveys … interesting.

Janice talks about indigo, lapis lazuli, Picasso and Yves Klein’s experimental work with blue (IKB); all things I talk about in the module I teach at the University of Leeds (Colour: Art and Science). Perhaps Janice should have my job!! Haha!

Why not green?

I am a scientist working in a design school who researches colour. I sometimes get frustrated by the simplistic view of colour and its use in branding, marketing and advertising pervades the internet (where anyone can be an expert). People often misinterpret my own work and imagine that all sorts of simplistic ideas stem from my research. So, for example, imagine that there is a company (that is aiming to deliver sustainable and environmentally responsible power) that is looking to brand itself and also imagine that my research reveals that the colour green is associated with the environment and nature. Typically people may say (or imagine that I would say) that it is obvious that the company should use the colour green as the basis of its branding strategy. However, this is a very simplistic view and one that I certainly don’t subscribe to.

When a company is constructing a branding strategy one has to consider many facets of the branding and marketing. What is the proposition that the company is making? How can colour support that or help to communicate it? A company may, for example, even may an ironic statement where it chooses colours and imagery that is the opposite of what it really stands for, just as an example. I quite enjoyed reading a post today by thebrandsquad that gave quite an intelligent and thoughtful analysis of colour in branding (using a case study rather like the fictitious example I refer to above).

See also Greenwashing – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greenwashing