When color takes over

We all know first impressions are crucial, it only takes a tenth of a second to judge a book by its cover. In a blink of an eye we form an impression and classify what’s trustworthy and what isn’t, Malcolm Gladwell refers to it as “The Power of Thinking Without Thinking”.

However, what you might not know is the powerful role color plays to make that memorable, positive first impression. With 93% of us subconsciously being influenced by the appearance of a product, selecting a color palette is probably one of the most impactful choices brands will make when rolling out a new product.

1: Mastering the art of persuasion

For centuries color has been the master in an art called ‘persuasion’, without words it has a grip on our feelings, mood and emotions. For centuries it has been used to influence, heal and guide.The psychology of color is probably one of the most interesting, yet controversial, aspects of design and marketing. Did you know that it is so good in persuasion that we (depending on the product) make up to 90% of snap judgments based on color alone. However, don’t get your hopes up just yet; Overdoing it with lots of colors won’t necessarily get you what you desire. The power of color lays in playing with associations and memories. It’s not the color itself that is important but more where and how it is used. Think about it, would you still associate Harley Davidsons with tough and cool if they branded themselves with pastel colors instead of black? Not really right… We are simply more persuade to buy things that match our perspective of a brand or person.

2: The psychological effects

For years marketeers, advertisers and designers have been geniusly tricking our perceptions through the use of color psychology. They know that our surroundings can really influence our emotions and have been using colors to encourage trust, to evoke feelings of happiness, to make us hungry and countless other ways.

No doubt that the effect of each color is quite personal and will vary depending on the country. Plus, every difference in shades, surrounding colors and context may result in totally different meanings. However, broader messaging patterns are proven to be found in color perceptions.

Take a closer look at Facebook, Dell, JPMorgan, American Express, pfizer, and the list goes on. What’s the thing they all have in common? They all use blue and white to spark emotions of trust and safety. Fast food logos like McDonalds, Burger King and Lay’s show messaging patterns through the colors yellow and red. You think this is random? Think again! Anywhere in the world this specific combination tends to make us hungry while also encouraging us to eat faster. It’s quite scary realizing that something as small as the color of your logo can make a world difference in how your brand will be perceived.

3: The shopper for your color

Even more impressive is that colors have the ability to attract specific types of shoppers. For example, the use of orange, red, black and royal blue are a great choice if you want to peak the interest of impulse shoppers in fast food chains, outlet malls or clearance sales. Navy blue and teal will be more effective to attract budget-shoppers in banks and department stores. If you have a clothing store that targets the more traditional buyers, it is recommended to play with pink, sky blue or rose. Choosing the right color might take time, but making the wrong decision could cost you a lot.

4: The Isolation Effect

It’s no secret that if you want to make sure people remember something, you should make it memorable. It is a scientific fact, people are simply more attracted to things that stand out. We value things differently when they are placed in isolation and depending on the alternative it is placed next to. Even with all the exposed marketing tricks, we still prefer products that look good over products that work good but might be missing out on the looks. So unleash your creativity if you want to make your product more appealing.

Use color as an identifying mark that can give you a competitive edge in the long haul. We tend to be intrigued by unfamiliar color (names), which results in more favorable responses to the product. So, analyze color naming, the name characteristics might impact how your product is processed. Develop a recognizable captivating set of colors and stop yourself from unrestrainedly adding colors to make product variants pop. The only effect it will have is diluting the color’s power.

5: Battle of the sexes

You remember the famous phrase: “Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus.”? So if we’re from different planets, there’s no wonder that researchers discovered that men and women show clear preferences in certain colors across gender.

While men prefer bright colors and shades, women are more appealed by soft colors and tints. Plus, colors also impact old and young people differently. Older observers tend to be less in favor of achromatic color pairs (think shades of grey) and single-, white- or dark colors than young observers.

But what if you want to appeal to a wide audience? No despair, both genders seem to have a clear preference for blue and share a mutual dislike for browns and oranges. Additionally, a large majority of consumers prefer color patterns with similar hues, and favor palettes with a highly contrasting accent color.

6: Color of the year

So why do we annually notice that certain colors are getting more and more attention? You start spotting them in fashion, movies, cars, commercials and packaging. This isn’t just a coincidence. It’s Pantone’s “ color of the year” that gives strategic direction to the world of trend and design. This isn’t just a random pretty color picked by a few people in an office.

It conveys deep messages on ‘what’s trending’ or better said, on what occupies people around the world.

Take Pantone’s 2018 ‘18–3838 Ultra Violet’ for example, a dramatically provocative and thoughtful purple shade. Did you know that it communicates originality and points us toward the future. In turbulent and sometimes overwhelming times, this purple is used to soothe and inspire connection.

7: Finding the golden mean

There are no clear-cut guidelines for choosing your colors. “It depends” is probably the most frustrating answer, but it’s the truth. The context you’re working within is an essential consideration. It’s the feeling, mood, and image that your brand or product creates that matters. Warm colors are great if you went to breath energy, while cold colors tend to be more associated with calmness and security.

Following infographic can help guide you in your decision, you can map color options depending on your industry and consumers preconceived notions. Nonetheless, ultimately, at the end of the day, it’s about finding the golden mean between staying relevant and staying distinct.

4: Pay attention to detail

Considering that the outside reflects the quality inside, the way your packaging feels and looks will go a long way in influencing purchases. Good design is thorough down to the last detail, nothing is left to chance, from the outer packaging to the appearance of the product once unwrapped. Every detail should match the brand positioning, including choosing the right materials that align with the brand image and the shelf impact the design will have. A great example of the effect that eye for details can have is Coca Cola. The signature flowing curves of the typography and bottle shape might seem random at first, but the whole bottle design is actually designed in such a way that your eyes automatically focus on the center of the words. This will subconsciously grab the attention and prompt consumers to pick up this specific product out of rows and shelves with the same or other items of the same group. Also make sure that the product is easy to remove from its packaging. Because after all, the brand and product are judged on the total of all experiences. Think about a new pair of scissors for example. You tend to need a pair of unpacked scissors already at hand to remove the thick plastic they are often wrapped in. Leading to big frustration, dissatisfied consumers and making it very unlikely that a repurchase will be made.

5: Be honest

Packaging should present the product in the best possible way, however, it is important to make sure consumers don’t feel mislead. Good design is honest. It reflects the product and doesn’t make a product more valuable than it really is or manipulates consumers with promises that cannot be kept. Although this might boost initial sales, consumers will feel cheated and mislead which will result in bad word-of-mouth advertising. Be honest, we’ve all experienced disappointment in buying a product and opening it to find something a little different from what the box showed, how many people did you tell about this? It’s very likely you told over 10 people who are now very unlikely to buy that product, talk about bad advertising. Even worse is that it will take 14 good experiences to overpower that one bad one. Disappointment is clearly something to avoid so when releasing a product, so make sure to be 100% honest about your products function and looks once it’s opened. Additionally, great packaging doesn’t just represents the product inside, but it also manages to adequately reflect the brands values and market position as well.

6: Make it environmental friendly

Sustainability is a trend that isn’t going away any time soon and tapping into it is definitely a must. Eco friendly packaging is not only the responsible move to make to reduce global warming and help improve the environment as a whole, but it will also gain the attention of a constantly growing environmental conscious clientele. Over 50% of shoppers are already more likely to choose a sustainable brand and they are willing to spend a bit more for environmentally friendly packaging. These numbers are expected to continue growing, which makes it a key factor when designing long-lasting packaging.

7: Tap into timeless values

Last but not least, great design doesn’t blindly follow passing trends but it taps into timeless values that trigger emotional engagement. It uses visual equities that focus on the brand and product but also make consumers feel something that transcends both time and cultures. It is often a design that may not seem revolutionary at first, but is memorable, unique, and can be used in a wide range of communication. Adding that timeless feel will help build an iconic status.

Although these seven tips might seem logical, you’ll quickly discover that combining everything while keeping it simple can feel somewhat paradoxical. Nonetheless, keep your eyes on the ball and you’ll end up with solid results. After all, if it were easy everyone would do it…