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The Psychology of Colour
There are four psychological primary colours - red, blue, yellow and green. They relate respectively to the body, the mind, the emotions and the essential balance between these three. There are eleven basic colours, however it is the range of primary colours that have the most impact. The psychological properties of these four are:

RED (physical)
Positive: Physical courage, strength, warmth, energy, basic survival, 'fight or flight', stimulation, masculinity, excitement.
Negative: Defiance, aggression, visual impact, strain.
Red is a powerful colour. Although not technically the most visible, it has the property of appearing to be nearer than it is and therefore it grabs our attention first. Hence its effectiveness in traffic lights the world over. Its effect is physical; it stimulates us and raises the pulse rate, giving the impression that time is passing faster than it is. It can activate the "fight or flight" instinct. Red is strong, and very basic. Pure red is the simplest colour, with no subtlety. It is stimulating and lively, very friendly. At the same time, it can be perceived as demanding and aggressive.
Examples: Virgin, Coke

BLUE (intellectual)
Positive: Intelligence, communication, trust, efficiency, serenity, duty, logic, coolness, reflection, calm.
Negative: Coldness, aloofness, lack of emotion, unfriendliness.
Blue is the colour of the mind and is essentially soothing; it affects us mentally, rather than the physical reaction we have to red. Strong blues will stimulate clear thought and lighter, soft blues will calm the mind and aid concentration. Consequently it is serene and mentally calming. It is the colour of clear communication. Blue objects do not appear to be as close to us as red ones. Time and again in research, blue is the world's favourite colour. However, it can be perceived as cold, unemotional and unfriendly.
Examples: O2, Barclays

YELLOW (emotional)
Warning - how well do you see this color? Think carefully before choosing this as a primary colour. It needs a strong background. 
Positive: Optimism, confidence, self-esteem, extraversion, emotional strength, friendliness, creativity.
Negative: Irrationality, fear, emotional fragility, depression, anxiety, suicide.
In this case the stimulus is emotional, therefore yellow is the strongest colour, psychologically. The right yellow will lift our spirits and our self-esteem; it is the colour of confidence and optimism. Too much of it, or the wrong tone in relation to the other tones in a colour scheme, can cause self-esteem to plummet, giving rise to fear and anxiety.
Examples: McDonalds, Yell.com


GREEN (balance)
Positive: Harmony, balance, refreshment, universal love, rest, restoration, reassurance, environmental awareness, equilibrium, peace.
Negative: Boredom, stagnation, blandness, enervation.
Green strikes the eye in such a way as to require no adjustment whatever and is, therefore, restful. Being in the centre of the spectrum, it is the colour of balance. When the world about us contains plenty of green, this indicates the presence of water, and little danger of famine, so we are reassured by green, on a primitive level. Negatively, it can indicate stagnation and, incorrectly used, will be perceived as being too bland.
Examples: Starbucks, Body Shop

Clearly, your choice of colours will impact upon how your visual marketing communications are received. Remember to think through the eyes of your target audiences rather than simply choosing your favourite!

If this fascinating topic interests you and you would details of the other seven basic colours, please do contact us for full details.
 
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Is Your Brand Behaving?
With so many different ways to get our message across, keeping a consistent image is tricky… especially when there are several people involved. Add the instant edge of digital marketing into the mix and there is a potential recipe for disaster.
 
Back in the days of writing letters, we’d always start with ‘Dear…’. With emails came informality: ‘Hi…’. Moving to social media and forums, your brand now has instant communication. The language and style of your content can boost or destroy your brand… in seconds.

 

Branding for Business



Social media for business seems to be the biggest culprit. When did text speak become the norm? I appreciate that there are character limits, especially in Twitter, but please refrain from using ‘text speak’. U’ll undo yr good mktg work by tmrw.
 
With some markets, it’s truly ok to be informal. Overstep the mark and you’ll lose favour, so tread carefully. Your brand is an ambassador for your business. It needs to be right… it’s the first impression of your business, especially online.
 
Consistency is vital. For example, is everyone within your organisation using the same email signature? The same font and layout for proposals? 
 
Images are important too… a definite boost for engagement with all marketing tools. Relevant, good quality images are a must. Funny team photos, holiday snaps for profile photos and a lack of photo at all are to be avoided. Eggs are generally not trusted as credible accounts within social media!
 
As discussed in an earlier blog, shockvertising can work but can backfire too. These principles apply to a lesser degree in any marketing communication, so it’s important to review your brand’s presence.
 
Here are some tips to make your brand well behaved:
 
  • Write your social media content as if you were talking to your client direct. Would you sign off with a kiss? x
  • If in doubt, be formal… you can relax later if you want to.
  • Avoid abbreviations; be ‘pleased’ rather than ‘plzd’, send your ‘regards’ instead of ‘rgds’
  • Use relevant images; not because they’re simply cute or funny (these are for your personal accounts, not the work ones).
  • Go back to basics. Who are you targeting? What style will they respond to? Write accordingly.
  • Talk to colleagues. If your marketing is not a solo effort, make sure that everyone understands the tone and image that’s important for your market… for your business. 

Need a hand? If you would like a review of your brand’s behaviour, let us know. We’re here to help.

 
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Shock Tactics: Worth The Risk?
Grabbing attention is definitely crucial within marketing – but should it be achieved however possible?

‘Shockvertising’ typically reaches its target audience using humour, sex or fear. The reward is awareness; the risk is alienation. Ultimately, it isn’t down to you to decide, but or your audience and the Advertising Standards Authority.  It’s been officially stating where ‘the line’ of decency exists for 50 years.

Incurring the wrath of the Advertising Standards Authority, (ASA), can result in expensive retractions and amendments. Some marketers believe that the headlines achieved in doing so are worth it. But be warned – controversy is a dangerous game.

The ASA is the first port of call for the public – and your competitors – if your adverts are deemed inaccurate or downright offensive. You may remember the controversial Benetton adverts of the 1990s, featuring the traditional taboos of war, racism and disease amongst other topics. They incited a negative backlash towards the brand.

At the other end of the scale, we’ve seen French Connection’s FCUK logo achieve success within controversy, as did Powwownow’s tongue-in-cheek banker character Cecil. (However his image was defaced on posters in tube stations as ‘his’ attitude was deemed offensive.)

We’ve seen charities spark fury by using 9/11 (Tsunami donations) and the Pope (condom advert) to raise awareness for their own cause. ASA research shows that 80% of the public believe that charities use shock  tactics. Ultimately it’s your audience’s view that counts. Prostate Cancer Charity receives 45% better donation levels in response to a positive message.

So, throughout its 50 year history, which advert has been most complained about? Did it feature sex, fear, racism? No.

Topping the list of complaints is the Kentucky Fried Chicken TV advert featuring call centre workers singing whilst eating. It seems that manners still matter to the British and that humour appears to be the most controversial element of all.

Are you thinking of a theme for your marketing communications? If you would like any advice please contact us – we’re here to help.
 
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Winning Marketing Communications
Regardless of what you offer and who your target customers are, everyone needs to get the basics right. There are three raw ingredients which any successful marketing communications activity must consider:
 

Who is your target audience?


Knowing the people you are communicating with – usually your target/existing clients – simply must shape your marketing. It’s their views that count. For example:
 
  • What do they really want from you, (their motivation to buy)?
  • Where would they look to find you? (Clients don’t always act in the same way as you!)
  • Which search terms would they use if looking online?
  • Who are their peer groups? (Referrals are very powerful in any market.)
 

What terminology do they use?


Listening – really listening – to your clients by surveying their opinions about you is both brave and essential. There will be a surprise that you didn’t think of… it’ll shape your marketing decisions.
 

What is your marketing message?


Talk about how your product/service benefits your clients, rather than detailed descriptions of what you do. Remember the saying ‘buyers want benefits’. It’s so true. Keep your content simple and relevant. You have little time to capture and keep people’s attention, so focus on:   
 
  • What are you offering? It seems so simple, yet many business owners base their marketing on what they know, how they describe their product/service. This is often very different to how their audience would describe the real benefit that they’re looking for.
  • Competitive edge. What makes your business stand out from the crowd? How are you different - and better - than your competitors? Give people a reason to choose you!

These three points, designed through the eyes of your target clients will give you the foundation of successful marketing communications.

Whether you’re promoting online, writing a brochure or designing a newsletter – they all need this focus.

Invest some time in getting the basics right; you’ll enjoy the results.

Want to know more? Contact us for an informal chat – we’re here to help. 

 
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