Omicron and the Power of Colors in Branding
The other day when a doctor from the Gujarat Chapter of Indian Medical Association suggested that people should wear N-95 masks to minimize the chances of contracting the Omicron variant of coronavirus, I started browsing Amazon to buy one
There were quite a few brands all unknown names but spontaneously decided to purchase Brand BoldFit, a name I had never heard of before. Of course, apart from 3M none of the other brands were familiar.
But what made me purchase BoldFit was the colour of the packing – a bold vibrant yellow colour. It is colour psychology that influenced my purchasing decision.
Colour psychology in branding is much more than a mere explanation of what each colour represents.
Colour can affect the brain’s limbic system, the seat of emotion sensors. Colour psychologists say that colours can call attention, inspire emotions, give assurance or tap into nostalgia.
Carl Jung the most prominent colour psychologist goes to the extent of saying that “colours are the mother tongue of the subconscious”.
It is true that specific colours can influence the choices of consumers, as the vibrant yellow colour of BoldFit helped me make a snap buying decision.
You may be wondering why very often the shades of colours you see on the computer screen and later in actual print differ. When it comes to our pharma industry, our designers and visualizers bank on two colour models, CMYK and RGB.
- The color model for printed material is called CMYK – i.e. Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Key (or black). The CMYK color model visualizes how colors are mixed together with pigments. These include the inks used for printing any type of marketing material, like flyers, brochures, merchandising, T-shirts, magazines, etc.
- The color model for digital material is called RGB. When the colored lights overlap in different intensities, they form all the other colors. This is the color space that designers use for all digital design, including websites, landing pages, social media visuals and more.
When designers create content for print, they will switch to the CMYK colour space. When working on digital content, they use RGB. When the same content is used for both, designers start with RGB and then switch to CMYK before sending the files to the printers. Sometimes, color adjustments need to be made to ensure consistency across all mediums. (1)
The CMYK colour model was introduced in the early 20th century by the Eagle Printing Ink Company. After testing different pigments, they concluded that the best three colours to achieve the largest number of colours were cyan, magenta and yellow. (1)
The RGB colour model is sometimes confusing because the main colours are red, green and blue, instead of red, yellow and blue. This is because the RGB model is made of coloured light. When red and green lights shine together, they make yellow light. That is why yellow cannot be one of the primary colours in the RGB model. (1)
The RGB colour model was incorporated into colour television screens. If you’re old enough, you probably remember that when you looked at the TV screen really closely, you could see red, green and blue rectangles. (1)
Since ancient times, people have believed that colour has profound effects on the mind and body. Colour was also used to treat ailments in Ayurveda. Choosing the perfect brand colours for your brand is as important as creating a logo, a mnemonic, or a font. All these together make up the face of your brand.
Having said that, colours do have an effect on the emotions of people and therefore become a very important branding exercise.
Take for example the colour red. Why do the guards of a train use a red flag to stop a train? Why do you stop when you see a red light at the crossing? Because red is the most visible colour. And this most visible colour is used to signal of impending danger ahead.
Across cultures, people intuitively associate red with the concept of danger. This relationship makes sense given that many people get red in the face from increased blood flow when they’re angry. (2)
However, red is also a colour of passion, energy and excitement. (3) And that’s perhaps the reason it is associated with Eveready Batteries which is a source of energy.
Take another colour, green. Immediately after the monsoon when you see green around. Green shows abundance. Green also is associated with refreshment and peace, rest and security. So when the guard of the train shows the green flag, it tells the engine driver that it is safe and the train can go ahead. So also at traffic signals.
Incidentally, green is not a primary colour. Green is a mixture of the two primary colours blue and yellow.
Why has Starbucks used the colour green? It’s a relaxing colour. The green colour palate of Starbucks represents freshness, uniqueness, and prosperity. Not only does Starbucks use green in its logo, it also uses the same colour predominantly in its stores to promote relaxation.
Why do hospital nurses wear a green uniforms? Many doctors even use green in their offices to put patients at ease. Green encourages a balance in your brain that leads to decisiveness. However, green may also be perceived negatively when associated with materialism, envy, and possessiveness. (4) However, green may also be perceived negatively when associated with materialism, envy, and possessiveness. (4)
Have you ever wondered why we at PharmaState Academy or CPhE use the blue colour in the logo? Blue depicts serenity and calmness, which is needed to create an environment of learning. People associate blue with trust and dependability, so it helps build brand confidence. And that’s the reason why a great majority of online learners come to PharmaState Academy or to CPhE.
Blue also is the colour of the sky and the deep waters of the ocean.
Why do many executives and leaders wear shirts of a blue hue? Because blue is often viewed as a non-threatening color. And who would like to have an aggressive or a threatening leader? Blue is a sign of stability and reliability. Businesses that want to project an image of security often utilize blue in their advertising and marketing efforts.
When used in offices, blue may foster a more creative environment. In retail spaces, blue has been shown to increase sales. In restaurants, blue is used to encourage leisurely dining and create a relaxed, sophisticated atmosphere. Blue may also relax patients, particularly children, in a hospital setting. (5)
So coming back to where we started, as to why I chose a particular brand of a N-95 mask, it was because of the bright yellow colour of the pack. The colour psychology of yellow is uplifting and illuminating. Yellow is a colour that offers hope, happiness, cheerfulness and fun. (5)
In the meaning of colours, yellow inspires original thought and inquisitiveness. Yellow is a superb colour to create enthusiasm in an office environment. It can awaken greater confidence and optimism among employees and staff in the office. The colour yellow loves a challenge, particularly a mental challenge. Brand managers can therefore get their work-station brightened up with hues yellow.(5)
The discussions on colours can go on and on and on. However, if you desire to master colour psychology, study Carl Jung. Current research supports the idea that certain colours can have positive psychological effects on both your employees and padocumers (Patients and doctors as consumers). But colour alone is not the only element of the brand-building mix. My daughter, an architect says: “A nice paint colour won’t make up for the poor design of a structure. Painting the walls a stimulating with bright yellow or red colours won’t hide or distract from problems like improper lighting, uncomfortable furniture, and bad acoustics.”
To create a brand loved by all, you have to attend to all the elements of brand building, importantly engaging the sales force in crafting strategies.
- Centre Colors (2018). The Psychology of Colour. Available on https://www.centrecolours.co.uk/the-psychology-of-colour. Accessed on 28 November 2021
- Peromaa T, Olkkonen M. (2019) Red color facilitates the detection of facial anger – But how much?. PLoS One. 2019;14(4). doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0215610
- Thorndike AN, Sonnenberg L, Riis J, Barraclough S, Levy DE. (2011)/ A 2-phase labeling and choice architecture intervention to improve healthy food and beverage choices. Am J Public Health. 2012;102(3):527-533. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2011.300391
- Rachel Palmateer. The Psychology of Design: The Color Blue in Marketing & Branding Available on https://www.impactplus.com/blog/the-psychology-of-design-the-color-green. Accessed on 28 November 2020.
- The Color Yellow. (2015) “Yellow is the color of the mind and the intellect”. Available on https://unikavaev.com/blog/color-psychology/. Accessed on 27 November 2021